Friday, September 23, 2011
Happy Tuesday! You are all probably wondering why I am writing you today instead of yesterday. Well, I thought about making up some grand adventurous story about facing a pack of drunk laminates with their ravenous hounds at their sides and that kept me from writing to you. Although that reason is slightly true (for that happens every day and especially this last weekend—no worries mom) I did not write yesterday because yesterday was a holiday and everything was closed so our preparation day was changed to today.
As Benson told mom, this last Sunday, the 18th, was Chilean Independence day. During the last couple weeks, the beautiful Chilean flag has appeared and now garnishes almost every house, car, and any other place possible. The people have been dancing the Queca (the traditional Chilean dance involving waving handkerchiefs in the air—see youtube), singing folksongs, eating traditional foods (and barbeques) and playing traditional games. One of those "games" is kite flying. The Chilean kite is very different from the kites that we know. They are a simple square sheet of paper supported by a straight stick crossed with an arch stick glued to the back. These kites require technique and practice in launching, catching flight and staying air bound. However once they are in the air, the fun begins. The game is to try and cut somebody else out of the air. To do so, you have to cross lines with someone and skilful cut their string using your own. Once the line is cut, people will run for twenty minutes to catch the kite, because the fame of catching a fallen kite is grand! This last weekend as I looked out from the top of our hill I saw hundreds of kites combating to rule the skies.
On Sunday, the eighteenth itself, we ate lunch at the Bishop´s house. He fed us a huge plate of steak, pork, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and onions, and much more. I was stuffed! That was the physical feast.
However this last week has been a spiritual feast and my soul feels fatter than ever. On Wednesday, we held a special conference with a spiritual giant—Elder Corbridge, member of the Seventy and President of the Area of Chile. Even before that conference, Elder Corbridge has had a great impact on my mission because of a talk that he wrote called "The Fourth Missionary" (you should read it!)
During the meeting he talked about the Most Important Thing (MIT). He talked about the greatest gifts that God has/will ever give us. They are the Holy Ghost (in this life) and Eternal Life (after this life—obviously). Everything that we do focuses on those two things. (Time is short so I will talk more about it next week). However, I left that conference uplifted and excited!
The special conference that we had with Elder Corbridge impacted me greatly and has already helped me to be a better missionary. Elder Corbridge talked about "the most important thing" (eternal life/gift of the Holy Ghost). As I have studied this last week I have noticed how the scriptures always come back to those points. As I have taught and prepared myself to teach I have focused my efforts. My teaching has already improved as I think about the roadmap of where I want the investigators to arrive and to feel and to know. I have been able to promise better and more specific blessings relating to the MIT.
After the conference with Elder Corbridge we had a very special lesson in which we extended a baptismal date. We had set up an appointment to pass by a future investigator named Eduardo. In that lesson we put into practice what we had learned about in the conference and training and we boldly and powerfully promised him blessings pertaining to the Holy Ghost and eternal life. He became very interested in the lesson and as we taught, he asked all the right questions and had many correct answers. We told him that he had to be baptized, as Jesus was, by the proper authority and only by so doing he could receive all the blessings related to the Gift of the Holy Ghost and eternal life. The Spirit bore witness of our words and Eduardo accepted a baptismal date for the 15th of October.
Cesar, Claudio and Valesca came to church this week!!! Now we have to help Eduardo and Paulina to do the same.
The Lord is truly guiding me and supporting in the assignation that He has given me to be a district leader. This Sunday I had the blessing of interviewing four different baptismal candidates. As I prepared to fulfil this great responsibility I pondered on the importance of the interview and my role in their eternal progression. During each of the different interviews I was able to see the different conversions of the four people. As we discussed the baptismal questions and their testimony, the Spirit of the Lord bore witness of their readiness. The Lord is guiding me and helping me to be better everyday. I am so grateful for this opportunity that I have to learn and grow.
I am also very greatful to be working with and training (even though it often feels like he is training me) Elder Sliffe. He truly is an incredible missionary and just wants to work, work, work. We are working hard together and I love him so very much.
*** I love my mission!
My companion and are doing so very well. Elder Sliffe has all of the excitement and power of a new missionary and a recent convert. We tell and show each other how much we care for each other. We both have our eye set on the glory of God. I truly am so grateful to be with Elder Sliffe and I hope to be with him for a long while.
This has been an excellent week. One of the highlights was a training meeting that we had with President Gillespie. We talked about the importance of commitments. In PMG it says, "When you ask for commitments as part of your teaching, you are inviting the investigator to repent." Commitments are key to our purpose as missionaries. We practiced extending bold, clear commitments and promising blessings using the power and authority of our calling. I learned a lot and was able to see that I have a lot to improve on. We are representatives of the Lord and as such we are to call people unto repentance and we have the authority and the responsibility to promise them blessings for so doing.
After a lot of hard work and urgent prayer, we have been able to find quite a few people who are ready to accept and listen to the Gospel. It is time for you to get to know a few of our investigators:
Firstly, we have Valesca. Valesca is 29 years old (even though she looks 15) and was first contacted by the missionaries way back in April she was taught for a little over a month back then and then was not taught (because they combined the areas). Her big impediment was that she never went to church. We decided to pass by during our first week here. She accepted a baptismal date and said that she would be going to church with us on Sunday. However, that Sunday (last Sunday) she did not show up. This last week we have focused on helping her to keep her commitments of reading, praying and especially going to church. We changed her baptismal date and she is now preparing to be baptized on the 9th of October. On Saturday she came to an activity that the stake held to celebrate Chilean history using its different types of music and dances. She promised to go to church. See below to see what happened. We are praying hard for her.
Next we have Claudio. On Friday, Elder Sliffe had an interview with President Gillespie, so we had to go down to the mission office. On the bus over, I started talking to Claudio. I asked him if we could visit him and he told us to come by the next day. On Saturday, we didn't have very much time, so we taught him about the Book of Mormon and invited him to church. He told us that he would come. See below to see what happened.
Finally, we have Cesar and Paulina. They were references from other missionaries. They are a fairly young couple with three children (all under the age of 8). They have had a lot of hardships in their lives, but they have also had a lot of contact with the church in their lives. On our first visit they told us that they really wanted to go to church and participate as much as they can. We focused on having powerful spiritual lessons with them and extending powerful commitments. In one of our lessons this week, they accepted a baptismal date for the 9th of October!!! I pray that they can continue on this path. They too committed to go to church…
This week we had many opportunities in which the Lord´s hands were seen. However, I will just name one of those experiences. Throughout this week we have been focusing on finding people and helping our investigators (especially those who have a baptismal date) to come to church. The entire week, we have begged our Heavenly Father to help us know how to help our investigators to come to church. We followed His promptings. Yesterday, as we walked to church, we walked with a prayer in our hearts. The Lord´s hand was seen first as we walked up to the church—we saw our investigator with baptismal date, Valesca, walking to church with her non-member boyfriend and her recent-convert. As I said before, Valesca was an old investigator and we were about to drop her (because she had not been to church once in the months of previous teaching that she had). However, the Lord brought her to church and she even invited her boyfriend who was in town visiting. Then we went and passed by Claudio who we had found in the bus on the way to our interview in Viña on Friday. He came to church and there in the chapel accepted a baptismal date for the 9th of October!!! After that, Cesar and Paulina arrived to church along with their three children. I know that it was the Lord´s hand that guided His children to his house yesterday.
I love this work so very much. This is my life. I have not felt such a strong feeling of love in my life. I truly love this people. I truly love my mission.
I love you all so very much. I am so thankful for all the people who are helping (and over the years have helped) me to be here.
What a crazy week this has been and I´m sure it was for you as well. Were you affected by the earthquake(s)?
On Monday night I had my final lesson with Lucia. She is amazing. Her faith is so strong and the Gospel has already changed her life. Even though I will not be there to see her baptism, I am so happy to have been able to see her faith grow and feel my own be strengthened with her.
On Tuesday, Elder Rowett and I headed down to the mission office early in the morning. We had a nice long meeting about training missionaries and abou the great responsability that it is.
The new missionaries got caught in traffic on the way from Santiago, so we were left with about five hours with "nothing" to do. Elder Stringham (lives in the same apartment and works in Rodelillo A) took me over to our apartment so we wouldnt have to deal with my luggage and the luggage of our "children" (Elder Stringham is also training).
Then later that day we met our companions. My companion´s name is Elder Paul Sliffe from San Diego, California!!! He could have been from anywhere in the world and he is from nearby San Diego. Elder Sliffe is an incredible person and missionary. Elder Sliffe was baptized two years ago. Before being converted, he, along with his family, were members of an evangelical church. However, through his girlfriend he got to know the church. He was baptized when he was 18 and was kicked out of his house. Since then he has been working and renting and just trying to get by, but everstrong in the Gospel.
As we are opening a new area, there was practically nothing here for us when we got here. It is a huge area, all on the side of a very long steep hill. However, this is an excellent ward, with awesome members.
Throughout the last week, I have truly felt the Lord´s hands and angels supporting me. It is a great privilege and responsibility to be training Elder Sliffe, to be a district leader, and to be opening this part of the Rodelillo ward. I know that the Lord is helping me and I have learned so much already. One thing that I have felt strongly this last week is love. I can feel the love and prayers of the elders in my district. My love for them and in general has been stronger than ever.
I love you all so much and can feel your love and support and prayers.
As you have passed heat waves in California and the east coast has been beaten and bruised by a hurricane and an earthquake, I have been blissfully oblivious—lost in the Lord´s work!
This week we did have quite a bit of rain. I always enjoy working in the rain. It gives us a chance to show ourselves, those around us, and the Lord, what type of men and missionaries we are. As we talked to people huddled under bus stops, they all made comments about how dedicated we were to be walking and working in the rain.
Among all of the wonderful experiences from this week, was the opportunity of having interchanges with the Assistants. On Wednesday, they came up to work with us. I spent the day with Elder Jaquier (the brother of missionary from Robyn´s mission). As I spent the day with him I was able to learn a lot. He is such an incredible man (he is almost 27 years old!) and a loving missionary.
Good news!!! Lucia has a baptismal date! She is so awesome. She talked with Guillermo (her ex) and he will not be living in the house anymore! Also, even though she enjoys smoking, she knows it is wrong and has almost completely dropped smoking. Lucia has changed and progressed quite a bit. About a month ago (when we began teaching her) she held parties in her house every weekend (parties with alcohol and the works). However, Lucia has not drank anything in weeks and has also left those old "friends" behind for new and better things. She will be baptized on the 17th.
Jacquelyn is doing great too. She is so very excited for her baptism and is determine to do all that is required.
Marcelo is worrying me. He is an interesting person. We haven't been able to teach him at all this week. I just pray that he is okay and will continue progressing.
This weekend is the end of this transfer. Elder Rowett and I really had no idea which one of us would be leaving (all we knew was that one of us would be leaving. On Saturday night, Elder Brady (my zone leader) called me and told me to pack my bags. I was so sad. I love this branch. I love the members. I love the people that we are teaching. I do not want to go.
Then last night, we were waiting for another call. Since, Elder Rowett was staying in the area, we were expecting him to get a call from the assistants to tell him that he would be training. Well, last night, as we waited, they called. Elder Rowett answered the phone. A voice was heard asking for me! Elder Brillones (the new assistant) told me that president trusts me a lot and has an assignment for me—I will be a district leader this next change. He then asked me how I felt. After that he told me that the Lord really trusts me and that I will be training this next transfer!! I will have a "son"!! That means that I will be a district leader, opening a new area (in Rodelio, Valparaiso) with a new missionary. I am so very excited for this new transfer. I feel very grateful and humbled by the opportunities that I will have of being a district leader and of training. I know that you and the Lord trust me and I will not let anyone down… However, it will require true faith. I say true faith for the following: If I have true faith, then I the Lord will be able to work miracles through me and around me. If I have true faith, I will be (and will want to be) exactly obedient and diligent. With that true faith I will be like the brother of Jared and will cry out to the Lord in repentance of my sins and will have the faith to see his fingers and hands in this work. I know that it will take a lot of work and a lot of prayers, but I will be the Lord´s pen (as Pres. Uchtdorf stated) and will not complain when, for what, or how the Lord wants to use me. By doing so, I know that the Lord will give me the promised success, "for behold, the field is white already to harvest."
I love you all so much! I love life! I love my Heavenly Father! I love my mission!
Thank you so much for all of your birthday wishes and notes. I truly am the luckiest and the most blessed missionary in all of Chile! Thank you for making this the best birthday on the mission in Chile that I have ever or will ever have! :)
Speaking of being my birthday, last night we were going to a family night that we had scheduled with an awesome member family (the daughter just so happens to be turning 20 today as well). They surprised me by having a little birthday celebration waiting for me with completos, cakes, and even brownies (a rare commodity around here)! As you can see by my huge smile in the pictures, it was a very happy surprise.
First things first. Last week, I left you hanging, waiting, and anticipating to hear about Lucia. Lucia is awesome. She is also a miracle. More than a month ago, we were walking down a street in our ward. As we walked, a cute little five-year-old girl poked her head out of the window and started talking to us. We talked with the little girl for a few minutes and she told us to come by another time when her mom, Lucia, would be there.
Elder Rowett and I passed by multiple times but she was never there. When we finally found her in the house, we didn´t have another man with us to be able to enter the house, but we left her a copy of the Book of Mormon with 3 Nephi 11 to read. When we came back the next day, we asked her if she had read. She told us that she had. We then asked, what did you read about. She then responded, "Well, there was a group of people gathered in the city of Nephi. They heard a voice, but didn´t understand it until the third time. Then Jesus came and let them all touch his hands and his sides…." We were completely shocked. Nobody ever answers like that.
Since that visit, she has continued to show her faith and desires to learn. She has come to church the last two weeks. She also came to the English class that we began on Friday night and she came to the ward activity on Saturday. The only thing that impeded Lucia from having a baptismal date was the fact that her ex-boyfriend had a bedroom in Lucia's house. They did not share it. He had no other place to go so Lucia, being kind let him have a room. However, he has not slept there in a while and he has a new girlfriend. Also, Lucia was planning on kicking him out anyway, so we plan on giving her a baptismal date this week.
Marcelo is doing really well. He also came to church yesterday. He is very sincere in his desires to learn more and be baptized.
This week, we had a miracle. We were in lunch with a member and we asked them who they knew that we could visit. The member told us that her neighbor, Jackelyn had recently told her that she wanted to go the church. We called over to Jackeyln's house and she came over to the member's house. We then had an awesome lesson in which Jackelyn accepted a baptismal date. She has been wanting to be baptized for the last five years and over the course of time listened to the missionaries many time. However, she was living with her boyfriend and he did not want to marry her and also did not want her to be baptized. He was very abusive to her and finally after many years of dealing with him, she called the police and he was sentenced to prison for family violence. That being said, there is nothing that will stop Jacky this time. In fact, in the closing prayer of our lesson, she began to cry and said, "Lord, I know that you have placed the Elders here again---and nothing and nobody will stop me from finally being baptized!"
The Lord is preparing the hearts of His children—"behold the field is white, already to harvest." I am so grateful to be a servant of the Lord, working with him in His vineyard. I know that this is His work. I glory in Him. I glory in His Gospel. I love you all so very much. I love my mission!—Especially on my birthday! :)
It has been another wonderful week here in the mission. Sit back, relax, and listen as I tell you about it.
On Tuesday we had a mission conference. A couple weeks ago I was playing the piano while waiting for my interview with President. Sister Gillespie heard and loved my song "Rock of my Soul" and asked me to put an arrangement of it together to sing at the conference. However, she called back a few days later and said that President only wanted hymns. They asked me to find a hymn and put an arrangement together for the conference.
There wasn't much time to practice so I thought and prayed hard to know what to do. Then it came to my mind to look at the "meters" page in the back of the English hymnal (that page doesn't exist in the Spanish version. Since the hymn "If You Could Hie to Kolob" doesn't exit in Spanish either, and because it is such a beautiful hymn, I decided to make a version of that song. We sang (I played the piano) "All Ye Who Are Called to Labor" (I believe that is how it´s called) to the tune of "If you coul Hie…" It turned out really well in the end. My zone did a fantastic job.
The conference was wonderful and as usual, I left the meeting feeling energized and excited. President always seems to know exactly what I need to hear and how to help me be a better disciple and representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, in the conference, we learned about some changes that have been placed in the missionary program around the world. Now, every companionship of missionaries has a portable DVD player and a set of the Preach My Gospel DVD´s in their apartment. Of course, they came with strict rules and guidelines for their usage. However, these tools are to be used during companion study. I have already seen the difference in my teaching style by having watched and used these DVDs in my studies.
Sadly, Cecilia and Tamara are not progressing. They are still smoking and don´t seem to be putting in the necessary effort to progress. They promised that they would come to church, but did not come. In fact, I called them yesterday to wake them up and they blocked my call. Then when I called back, they had turned their phone off. Elder Rowett and I then went over to their house to get them, but when we knocked, nobody came out. When then headed to church, praying and hoping for a miracle.
To get to the church, we had to walk through the feria that they have every Sunday, right outside of the church. While walking through the feria, we ran into a young man named Marcelo. About a week ago, Elder Rowett and I were walking down the street and Marcelo came up, shook our hand and told us that he was going to come to church that (last) Sunday. He then walked away before we could talk to him. Blessedly, we ran into him yesterday in the feria. After talking with him for a minute he asked us "well, are you going to invite me to church with you?" We quickly invited him with us. He asked us if it was okay to go, even though he was dressed in old, dirty, worn-out clothes. We reassured him that is was okay and he came to church with us. Not only did he come with us, but he loved it. He practically asked us if he could get baptized yesterday. We told him that he would need a little time to prepare and we agreed on a baptismal date in mid-September. What a blessing the Lord gave us!
Not only did Marcelo come to church, but also three---yes THREE--- other investigators. One of them is the ten-year-old daughter of a member that we have been teaching. The others are slightly more interesting---Mario and Lucia. Mario is a very interesting man—or rather is very interesting men. You see, he is schizophrenic. Okay, it isn't that bad—he does not have to personalities, he just has some problems. We have been teaching him for a couple weeks. Yesterday he came to church to "look for a wife" as he told us. Towards the end of sacrament meeting, he slipped out and came back a half an hour later with hair gel and cologne, trying to look all nice to find a wife. We kept our eyes on him and this week we will be talking to him a little more about that.
Lucia. Lucia is incredible. Pure gold. I want to tell you about her, but my time is up and I have to be obedient. I will tell you about her next week.
I love my mission so much! Every day I realized something more. Every day my faith and love grow.
I am doing very well and am loving the work. This is a very short time that I have to serve the Lord with "all my heart, might, mind and strength." Every day I realize more and more how short the time is that I have. I do not want any time to merely "pass by." This is the Lord´s work and I am but a tool in his hands. I know that I have a lot to improve on and I am working hard to be able to do it.
One evening this last week, we were visiting a member and she started to talk about qualities that she respected in people in general and in members. She talked about honesty and love among other things. However, what hit me was what she said about "doing things thoroughly." She said that when people are given an assignment they should do it thoroughly and even better than expected. I started thinking about that a lot this week. I asked myself "I am doing my job thoroughly?" As I have thought about all these things, I have felt a stronger desire to work hard and do a thorough job.
In Preach My Gospel it says that The Book of Mormon truly is the most powerful tool that we have for conversion. Every chance that I get, I testify of the truth of the book and its history. In the street and in houses I always challenge people to read and pray, because I know that by doing so (with a true heart and real intent) they will receive a testimony of these things. However, my story from this week is a rather personal one. There is an Evangelical man (pastor, we believe) named Juan in our branch limits. Every time he sees us, he comes to us to try and contend. He has brought up arguments and points. He has quoted the bible to us for over ten minutes, telling us how we are wrong (he truly has a great knowledge of the bible, but his understanding is small). Well, our "confrontations" with Juan this week have been very interesting. Every chance he gets, he tries to destroy our faith and beliefs. Despite all those things, none of them have been able to affect my testimony. Why? –Because I know that The Book of Mormon is true. The Lord has answered my prayers many times and confirmed the truthfulness of that book.
In the letter, dad talked about not having very much missionary success. As I quoted above, The Book of Mormon truly is the most powerful tool that we have for conversion. Along with that, the members are so very important and need to be involved. As a mission we have a little piece of paper that we call "la lista" or the list. We missionaries, or the ward missionaries, visit each member and present them with the list. We tell them that is a family mission plan. They fill the list with names of friends, loved-ones and neighbors --- all those aren´t members (or are inactive). We then tell them to put it in a place where it can be seen (like the fridge). It is now their responsibility to pray for the revelation of how to help those people to receive the Gospel. In my mission, I have combined the list with The Book of Mormon. In a visit with members, we watch a few videos including one called "By small and simple things" which is about a young woman giving a BOM to a friend. We then invite the members to give a BOM to a friend. This has worked very well for us. I hope it helps you.
Yesterday was a very sad day. None of our investigators came to church. It makes me so sad. We work and pray so hard all week and they even promise to come to church. However, when Sunday comes, they don´t. Hopefully this next week will be better.
Cecilia and Tamara are still struggling with the cigarettes, but I have hope and faith that they can give them up.
Got to go. Love you all. I love my mission!
Hola hermosa familia mía,
To answer mother´s questions and calm her worries, I am doing very well--extremely well actually. Even though I have been getting up earlier, I feel better and more awake than I did before. Also, this last transfer I have been watching what I eat and making better use of my exercise time!
After spending nine weeks in the MTC and eating their food, I weighed in at 215 lbs when I left. Six weeks ago I weighed myself and I weighed 198 lbs. I just weighed myself today and I weighed 188 lbs! Don´t worry mom, I am getting and eating plenty of food I am just eating smarter and of course taking all of my vitamins.
This week, we were not able to teach Miguel and his family. Miguel got home after nine PM every day this week. Also, they did not come to church. However, they are doing well and we will teach them this week
Yesterday, Cecilia came to church. Tamara was going to come as well, but got hit by a ball at school and did want to show up at church for the first time with a black eye. They are doing very well. However, they are still smoking. We had a long talk about the Word of Wisdom and how they could quit smoking. At the end of the lesson I made a deal with them. I told them that we would "be in it together." I committed to stop eating candy and they committed to stop smoking. I just pray that they will have the force and the desires to continue progressing and make the necessary changes in their lives.
This last week, I focused on developing my patience. As I have prayed to develop a deeper patience, it seems that the Lord has helped me by giving me many experiences that tried my patience (people in the street saying things, investigators saying other things, etc). In one lesson with an investigator, he did not understand the importance of The Book of Mormon and said that he did not need to read it. We explained over and over again trying to help him understand where the book came from and why he needed to study it. Stubbornly, he refused. After much internal praying for the patience and the right words, we were able to help him understand and feel the importance of reading. I know that if I had gotten more frustrated or had given up, we would not have been able to help this man. However, because I was striving to have patience, we were able to be blessing for this man and his eternal progression.
Again, I had all the plans to write you a super long letter, but it seems that these computers from the 90´s had different plans for me.
I love all of you so much. * * * Thank you for all that you do. I love my mission!
Thank you for the nice pictures. I cannot believe that it has already been a year. I only have one more year to dedicate myself full-time to being an official representative of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no time to lose. I am savoring and treasuring every moment.
This last week, we started a new transfer (my eighth). As with all new transfers, I set new personal goals for these next six weeks. In PMG it says that our goals reflect the desires of our heart. As I set my goals I prayerfully thought about what my desires are and what the Lord´s desires are for me. One of my many goals has to do with more effective use of my time. As part of that, I have started to get up earlier to study. There is not very much time to study. I know enough to know that I don´t know enough and therefore I am trying to get in more studies.
One highlight of this week was an interchange with an elder named Elder González. Elder Gonzalez is from Fontana! His parents are both from El Salvador. He is an excellent missionary and we had a great time together on Saturday. Saturday we had a meeting with or ward mission leader (the following is an excerpt from my letter to President Gillespie).
This week I was able to see the Lord´s hand in His work during our branch mission correlation. This last week we have been trying to find a good member to fellowship our family of investigators with baptismal date. We had been praying and searching to find the member that would be just right for him. In our meeting with the ward mission leader, we told him about the situation. He suggested a few names and then moved on. None of the names really felt like the right one. Then a few minutes later, Raul (ward mission leader) told us another name as an afterthought. The name hit home to me. I felt like he would be the perfect person. We had an appointment with the family that night and blessedly the brother could go with us. During the lesson, the brother and our investigator became good friends and the brother said exactly what our investigator needed to hear. The Lord truly inspired our ward mission leader to help us find the right "fellowshipper."
In that lesson with Miguel and his family on Saturday, we talked about baptism and keeping the Sabbath day holy. During the lesson, Hno Vicencio (who came with us) told Miguel about his conversion and experience with keeping the Sabbath day holy. Miguel told us that he knew that what we said was true because he had felt something different ever since we started sharing. He said that he knew that he needed to go to church and would be going to church with us on Sunday. At the end of that lesson, we all knelt down and Miguel offered a beautiful prayer. After the prayer he told us that he had felt something powerful.
Yesterday, Miguel and his wife and daughter came to church!!! I was so happy to see all of them there. My heart and soul filled with love and joy as I saw them come in. We have been working really hard and praying even harder and finally yesterday we were able to see some fruits of our work.
I love my mission so much. I love the Chilean people. I love the language. Speaking of the language, here in Chile they use a lot of English words. Some common words:
Ayer fui a su casa para el pajama party.
Mi mamá tuvo su baby shower la semana posada.
Siéntense aquí en el living (room)
Yo trabajo full-time. Él trabaja part-time.
Quiero una bebida lite.
Another change has ended and a new one shall begin. The Lord has surprised me by keeping both Elder Rowett and I here together as co-companions in Las Torres. It is definitely alright with me because I love this branch, I love Elder Rowett and we are getting a lot done together.
This week we had a very strong, spiritual lesson. After a few weeks of trying to contact a reference from other missionaries, we were finally able contact Miguel and his family. In our first lesson, we had about five minutes and shared the story of the Restoration of the Gospel, leaving Miguel and his family with a Book of Mormon. The following day (yesterday) we taught them a more in depth about the Restoration. As we taught the family, the Spirit bore witness of the truth. Miguel told us that he had felt something different. He said that while we were there, he had felt the truth of our message and of his need to be baptized. In that strong moment, we invited him, his wife and his daughter to be baptized and they accepted! I love the power of the Holy Ghost and its pivotal role in this work.
Another night this week, we were able to visit a family that we have been trying to visit fore couple weeks. We visited Maria Teresa and her daughter Jeraldyn. In that lesson, we also bore witness of the Restoration. After hearing the message and feeling the Spirit, they too accepted the invitation to be baptized.
Right now, we have seven investigators with baptismal dates. It truly has been incredible to see the Lord´s hand in His work. However, now we just hope to see the progress of these souls.
Yesterday, we had plans for everyone to come to church. We had members passing by to pick-up the investigators, we called them all, and they were all very excited to come. However, only one investigator showed up to church. Some of our investigators were called out to fight fires, others slept in, and others with other excuses. This week we are focusing with all our might on helping these people attend church.
These last few weeks I have been studying in PMG about Christ like attributes. I have been thinking a lot about which Christ like attribute I want and need to develop. Although I am constantly working on developing a deeper love and charity, I have come to the realization that I need to develop my humility. Christ was such humble servant to all. I have been thinking to myself, "Why do I want to have success? What gives me my drive and passion? Do I work so that I will become a district leader, a trainer, or a zone leader? Asia have asked myself these questions I have sadly had to answer that yes, part of the reason is because of pride and the desire to have "outer success." It is the urge of the natural man to be known for his successes. As I thought about this in my personal studies, I read my patriarchal blessing in which it tells me to remember that no matter where I am called to serve or what I am called to-do it is never insignificant. My desires to lose my pride and my plans are as follows. Firstly, I will pour out my spirit in prayer to forgive me for my pride and to ask Him to be more humble. Also, I will do as Christ did and serve others. In my studies I am taking note of how Christ shows His humility. I will not look for my ways of doing things; rather, I shall look for ways to learn from others and always ask, "Father, what would you have me do." I know that I have a lot to improve but I know that the Lord will help me.
Right now, La Fútbol Copa America (the American Soccer Cup) is taking place here in South America. When the soccer game is on, all the streets are deserted. However, when Chile plays (like yesterday) the streets are deserted, but the whole country is unified. In about95% of the houses, people are watching the game. We don´t need to watch to know what goes on. Last night we paused on a lookout point and listened. We heard the reactions of the wide audience reverberating across the hillsides. When the other team scores, the entire hill, the entire country screams in horror. However, when Chile scores the country erupts with cheers of pleasure. It was so cool to hear as simultaneously every house on the hillside cheered for their team.
I love my mission. I have so much to do, so much to learn, so much to love.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Another beautiful, great, wonderful week in the mission.
Last Monday we had a successful night after ending our P-Day. We had a couple lessons including one to a couple of our investigators named Cecilia and Tamara. About a month ago we were talking to people in the street and we talked to twenty-two year old girl named Cecilia and gave her a copy of The Book of Mormon. In the following visits, we met Tamara, her seventeen-year-old sister and their mother, Cindy. We found out that Cindy was baptized in the Church, but over the years, fell away from the Church because of her marriage and other life problems. However, Cindy is very supportive of her daughters and is excited to come back to the Church. Last week, Cecilia accepted a baptismal date and on Monday night Tamara did as well. If all goes well (as I am praying it will) they will be baptized on the 7th of August.
However, Cecilia is a firefighter and she has firefighting exercises every Sunday morning. Not only that, but she is now sick with pneumonia. I pray that we will be able to teach her well enough that she will feel the need and desire to attend Church and make the necessary changes in her life.
This week we had to drop one of our investigators. Last week we saw Carola going to church, but not to ours. She was going to a church that had Mickey Mouse painted all over the walls—you see some pretty strange things down here. When we saw that, it broke my heart. After promising that she come to church with us, we see her going to the Mickey Mouse church. We visited her a few days later. (Actually, I was on exchanges in a different area and Elder Rowett was with another Elder.) In that lesson, her husband came out and started yelling at her telling her very rudely to "get to work" and telling us to leave. It was a very sad moment. I pray that the Lord will soften his heart that we may share again with her soon.
This week among many spiritual experiences that strengthened my testimony happened during my personal studies. I was reading in chapters nine to thirteen of Third Nephi. I read about the darkness and destruction that followed Christ´s death. Then after three days of darkness, the voice of the Lord is heard. I imagined how it would have been to be trapped in that thick darkness, wondering who had survived. I then read how Christ came down from heaven and the first thing He tells the people is "I am the light and the life of the world." It struck me how true that statement is. Three days without Christ—three days of utter darkness. I remember that I talked about this last fall, but as I read and pondered, I felt the light of Christ fill my soul and renew my testimony that Christ is my personal light and Savior and that it is only through Him that one day, I will arrive to the father. I love my mission and the testimony and strength that I feel every day.
Life is beautiful. I cherish every moment, I live for every second. My only desire is to serve the Lord and by so doing, show my love for him, for all of you, and for all of my brothers and sisters. I know that I have so much to do, so much to change; but I also know that I have come a long way. I love you all so very much. I love my mission!
[My brother] Dallin and [his new bride] Robyn´s wedding sounded absolutely heavenly. The wedding was one of my favorite topics this week. I was so proud to be able to tell all of the other missionaries, all the members, all my investigators and even people in the street about my older brother´s eternal marriage with his wife. My testimony of eternal nature of the family has grown so much this week as I have testified thereof. I know that there is no other place that I would rather be than where I am now. I know that it was because my brother served a true, full, honorable mission that he has been thus blessed. I want to some day be able to say to my wife, children, and Heavenly Father that I served with all my "heart, might, mind, and strength."
This week was a pretty busy week. We had our usual missionary zone meetings on Tuesday. Then in the afternoon we passed by a "future investigator´s" house. Her name is Mary. She is about forty years old and is the mother of two girls, but also takes care of her niece and her niece´s seven month old baby. About a week ago, we were walking in the street and we saw Mary struggling to push a stroller up a hill. Mary suffers from a muscular sickness similar to muscular dystrophy, and is slowly losing the strength in her legs. Anyway, she was struggling up the hill, so Elder Rowett and I ran up to help her. As we helped her, we talked to her and shared a brief message with her. She accepted a Book of Mormon and an appointment.
This Tuesday we went to that appointment. We brought with us a recently returned missionary named Fank Vicencio and his mother Marcelina. It must have been inspiration because when Mary and Marcelina saw each other, they greeted each other as the old friends that they were. Also, Marcelina was Catholic (as is Mary) before she found the Church, so she was able to help Mary understand. In that appointment, we testified about the Restoration and the significance of that for her family. At the end we invited her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. We then passed by her house on Saturday. We read more from the scriptures and invited her to go to Church. She said that she would go (but she would need an escort due to her weak legs).
During the week we also taught Ancelmo, Carola and Cecilia (our three investigators preparing themselves for baptism). Ancelmo definitely is doing a lot better and has felt the difference in his life that the gospel brings.
With all the visits this week, we expected a lot of investigators at church yesterday. In fact, I was fasting this weekend to be able to reach my mission goals and my goals for this transfer. To be able to reach those goals, I would need investigators in church. We had about six people who promised to go to church. Sunday morning we passed by a few of them, but nobody was home. Sad and exhausted (it is quite a hike from the valley where Ancelmo lives to the hilltop chapel), we began the church meetings without any investigators. During the first part of the meeting, I prayed and begged that someone would show up—to no avail.
The testimonies began and I listened with a broken heart. These people, my brothers and sisters, needed to come to church to be able to feel of the Spirit of God and progress along the Path. I thought of what I would do this week to avoid that problem next Sunday.
Then at the end of the meeting, I got up to the play the piano. We were halfway through the hymn when I noticed there in the back of the room; Mary was seated with her niece and the niece's child! I was so happy that I got a little lost in the song and had to play by ear until I figured out where I was in the song. My prayers had been answered. Mary had come and had even brought someone else with her!
I love my mission so much. I have grown so much to come to know that I have so much to grow. I love you with all my heart. I am serving with all my heart, might, mind and strength because I love my Father in Heaven and all of my brothers and sisters.
I love my mission!
This transfer is just flying by. The first two weeks flew by because Elder Schiller and I bonded so well. Now, another week has past rapidly due to the changes that have happened and the work that we have done.
Elder Rowett and I are getting along really well. He is from Arizona and came to the mission one transfer before I did. We are actually "co-companions" which means that neither of us is the junior or senior companion. However, that does not really mean anything because we work hard and do the Lord´s will just the same. Elder Rowett is a great elder and an excellent cook. Before the mission he worked as a chef and kitchen boss in many restaurants. This week he has tempted me to break away from my diet by the smell of his delectable crepes, french toast and other creations.
Yesterday was a wonderful beautiful day as most Sundays are. Armin attended church and was confirmed a member of the Church and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. He asked me to bless him and confirm him. What a humbling experience it is to see the change in this man and to be a part of that experience.
This week we found a man named Ancelmo. Something recently happened in his life and his wife left him with their daughter. When we met him, he was extremely sad, even depressed. He had done something wrong that caused his wife to leave. However, he has the sincere desire to repent and be a better person. He is truly looking for the Gospel of Jesus Christ-- the medicine that can heal any wound. In our visits we have taught him about faith, repentance, baptism, the holy ghost, and keeping the commandments of God. As we taught him, I could see a spark of joy and hope light up his countenance. He has been humble and hurt for what he did. Now, he is trying to repent and become a better person. Last night, I asked him, "what can you do to show God that you want to change and do things the right way." Ancelmo responded humbly and sincerely, "be baptized." The Spirit was present in the room and taught Ancelmo what my words could not. He has a planned baptismal date for the 24th of July. What a great way to celebrate Pioneer Day! :)
Sorry the letter is short today, I had some work I had to do and my fingers are freezing making it hard to type, but next week you will for sure receive a lengthy letter.
I love my mission so much!
This has been such a crazy week, I don´t know where to even start.
I´d like to start out with the conference that we had on Tuesday. I love mission conferences. They always give me so much excitement and energy for the work. During the conference Presidente Gillespie gave us all a little fake diamond. He then told some facts about diamonds. He told us the proportion of dirt that has to be moved and dug before a diamond can be found (you can look up the data). He then asked, "Do you think that the mine workers ever get sad or depressed?" No, they know that something of great work is waiting for them, they just have to get to work and move the dirt. We discussed how great the worth of souls are and the fact that we have to get to work and "move the dirt." It was a rather inspiring comparison. We all now have our little diamonds that we carry around in our pocket every day to remind us of the souls that we are looking for.
These last few days, the weather has been absolutely horrible. It has been rainy, extremely windy and very cold. The area has been on storm alert. It was so windy and rainy that on Saturday the zone leaders called Elder Schiller and I and told us that we could stay in the apartment. However, together we decided to leave and go work. Within minutes, we were soaked. Even though I was wearing three coats, a sweater, a long-sleeve shirt and thermals, it didn´t matter—we were drenched, cold and perfectly happy.
Even though the weather has been horrible, we have had so much success this weekend. It has been inspiring to see how the Lord blesses us for our willingness to go work and be obedient. Over the last few days we have found four incredible families who are looking for the truth. Not only are they looking for the truth, but they are willing to do their part.
Saturday afternoon, we were making our way up and down a flooded street, looking for a house (the house numbers here have no order whatsoever). As we wandered down the street, we heard someone calling out to us. We turned and an older man beckoned us into his house. In his nice warm and dry house, we taught him and his wife about the message of the Restoration. We asked them to be baptized and they said that they would in a little bit of time. We have another appointment with them this week.
This weekend we had a baptism here in Las Torres. His name is Armín Gonzalez. Armin is an incredible man. He found the church because of his girlfriend. For his birthday she went to the temple and bought him all the standard works, pamphlets, and DVD´s. He then found the missionaries. Last week we were teaching him about tithing. I was halfway through the story about how mom and dad paid their tithing before the rent, when he interrupted. He said, "Let me tell you why I should pay my tithing. A couple weeks ago, I was smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. That adds up to just about ten percent of my monthly salary. Why can´t I just give that to the Lord to thank him for this beautiful Gospel that he has brought me?" True and steady faith right there.
Now, today has been a pretty crazy day. This morning President called and told Elder Schiller that there had been some changes in the mission and that he had to be at the office at twelve. We spent the morning packing his bags. I will miss him. We bonded a lot and became like brothers. I am now with Elder Rowett. He is a good Elder. I have been in the same zone as him before. We will work hard and do the Lord´s will together.
Time to go now. *** I love my mission!
Holi (Chilean way to say hola).
Yes, the fleas are still here. The apartment here has carpeted walls, so the fleas now just jump from wall to wall to floor to me... but it is okay, I am used to the fleas and they seem to be used to me too...
This has been a wonderful week here in Las Torres. I love the area. The Las Torres branch is situated at the top of the hill "Forrestal" (one of the many hills that surrounds Viña del Mar) and is part of the Viña del Mar zone. Fun fact, Elder Brady (my trainer, example and friend) is one of the zone leaders here. My companion is a district leader which means that we will go on exchanges with the zone leaders often during this transfer.
I love my companion, Elder Schiller. Elder Schiller is from Saint George, Utah and he was actually up at Provo studying at UVU when I was there at BYU. He will finish his mission in March, 2012. We get along really well and teach with unity and power.
This week I have loved seeing and experiencing the guidance of the Spirit in the work. When we have the Spirit, we are guided to be at the right place at the right time and to say the right thing to the right person.
In one experience, we were passing by the house of a man we had talked to in the street. He however gave us "oso" or rather "the bear" (the Chileans say that someone gives you "oso" when they "blow you off" or are not there for a scheduled appointment.) In that moment, we felt prompted to go down to the end of the street and look there. Now, that was not an easy task, for that street was carved into the side of the hill and we had to literally hike and climb to reach the bottom. There at the bottom was a single little house. We called to the house and a middle-aged woman came out. After presenting ourselves, she told us that she was actually chatting on the computer with her LDS son who lives in Utah. She was very interested and wanted to learn more about our church. Her husband was not home, so we left her with a Book of Mormon and an appointment this week when her husband will be home. She was waiting for us. In that very moment when she was talking to her member son, we arrived.
Another experience: This week we worked in the feria and were able to get some names and addresses. We passed by one of them last night. Her name is Susom and she is twenty-four years old. If you looked at her, you could tell that she is sad and is carrying a burden and has been "hardened" because of her life´s trials. We talked last night outside of her fence for a few minutes and then she told us that she wanted us to meet her mom. When Susom opened the door to the house, there from the doorstep we met her mom – a pitiful little skin and bones woman who kept asking us for a drink. She kept walking back and forth saying, "I am so thirsty, do you have a drink? Give me a drink please." Susom told us that her mother was alcoholic and that Susom spent almost all of her time taking care of her mom. She said, "sometimes I wonder what´s the point of going on, death would be so much easier." Elder Schiller and I were filled with love, compassion, and the Spirit as we beared witness that Susom is a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father and that He loves her. We told her that He has a plan for her and that she can talk with God through prayer. There on the doorstep of that little shack we bore testimony of the worth of one of God´s precious daughter. As we spoke, Susom burst into tears and told us that she wanted to learn more and come to church with us. I know that the Spirit of God told us to pass by her house at that time. I know that he placed the words into my mouth and Elder Schiller´s mouth—he placed the words that Susom needed and was waiting to here.
Time is up. I love you and pray for you constantly. "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers" (Romans 1:9). I love my mission!
Mom asked me if my feet get soaked when it rains. Luckily it does not rain very much. In fact, my whole time down here in Chile, there have only been two rainstorms. The second of which was yesterday. Mom must have received some sort of revelation to know that it was raining down here. :) It rained pretty hard and steadily all afternoon. However, in the morning when we left the apartment for church, the weather looked normal, so Elder Boyd and I were taken by surprise. By the end of the night, we were soaked from head to toe. (It probably didn´t help that I enjoyed splashing in the puddles or that Elder Boyd took a nice slip in the mud pile). Even though we were wet and cold, we still had a great day yesterday! Just goes to show that it does not matter where you are or what kind of weather there is, God´s work will roll forth like the "stone cut out of the mountain without hands."
Now, as I said it doesn´t matter where I am, I will do God´s work. This last Saturday I got the infamous phone call from the zone leaders telling me to pack my bags. Today I found out that I will be going to work in the ward "Los Torres" down in Viña del Mar. My new companion will be an Elder Schillings. I am excited to move to the third area of my mission and find the people that the Lord has prepared for me there. I have enjoyed working here in Gomez Carreño with Elder Boyd.
Yesterday in church, the bishop had me start the testimony. However, he asked me to bear it in a different way than usual. He told me that he wanted to change the "tone" of the meetings and wanted this meeting to be extremely spiritual. To start the testimony he had me sing. I sang the version of "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" that I sang at my "farewell." During the song, the Spirit manifest itself and by the end of the song there was not a dry eye in the room. The testimony meeting was filled with the Spirit and we called all feel God´s love as we took turns testifying of him.
I know that God lives and directs this work. I am nothing more than His tool—and I love it!! I love my mission!
What a great week it has been filled with the usual highs and lows of the missionary life.
Firstly, we went to the temple!!! As I told you last week, we were going to go with Victoria and Marcelo. I was so excited to be able to visit the temple with them and introduce it to them from the very beginning of their spiritual journey. However, the morning of the temple trip, we called them and they told as that they were sick and could not go. I was so sad. They had to go. I thought of how it would be in the last day when were are called to see if we will enter into God´s house and how some will be spiritually sick or out of shape and will not be able to enter.
The temple trip was still amazing. We arrive in Santiago at about 11:00 AM. After waiting in the line for the 11:30 at the front desk of the temple (yes, there was a line) for about 15 minutes they told Elder Boyd and I that the session had been filled. (Our ward´s session was scheduled for the 12:30 session. We just wanted to do an earlier session so that we´d have more time). We them went to the store and bought garments and other supplies. However, the line there was incredibly long and we were in the store until about 12:25. We ran to the temple, changed faster than Clark Kent and barely made it into the session.
During the temple I was thinking and praying a lot. I was surprised by the fact that I understood everything in Spanish! Well, I understood the translations of the words, but not the full meanings of the words. However, one thing stuck out to me in particular. Last weekend we had a mission fast. One of the purposes was to find ways to be more obedient. As we fasted and when I was in the temple this last weekend I have thought a lot about obedience. I know that I have to be obedient. The Lord does not want an "average" missionary—He has enough of those. He wants superb missionaries—missionaries that are diligent and obedient with exactness. In the temple I was praying and thinking and realized ways that I have to improve in. I know what the Lord wants of me and I promised Him that I will make the necessary changes in order that I can be exactly obedient. As always Jesus is the prefect example of perfect obedience. During the session, I realized how when the Father gives a command to Jesus or Jesus to his chosen servants, they did not complain or ask questions. Rather, they simply respond that they will fulfill His command. That is true obedience--no questions asked, completion of all that has been asked.
The temple was definitely the high point of this week. Now for the lows...
We have dropped the four other investigators that had baptismal dates. None of them are coming to church and are not keeping their commitments. I felt the pain as we left behind four investigators that had baptismal dates. It truly pains me to see how close these people were coming to the waters of baptism and entering the path towards the celestial kingdom, only to not progress on the baptismal pathway.
We are now back to the ground zero of missionary work: finding.
Now for some cultural notes.
I have not talked about washing clothes yet. Here in Chile, nobody has dryers and very few have washing machines. Most of the people wash the clothes be hands and hang them to dry. Luckily, we missionaries have mamitas who take care of our clothes. However, as of the fact that we are in winter now and the sun is hardly ever seen due to the clouds, clothes do not dry very well. It is funny on the days when the sun does peek around the clouds, everyone rushes to hang up all their clothes.
Speaking of rushing, in the states, if you were to hear a friendly little jingle of bells playing songs like "Take me out to the ballgame" blasting through your neighborhood, you would (or at least, I would) come running to by an ice cream from the ice cream man. I only made that mistake once here in Chile. Here, instead of having ice cream trucks, we have gas trucks. Not quite as tasty as ice cream. Only the very rich people here have built in gas lines. So, if you want to have a warm shower or cook on the stove, you have to have a gas canister to hook up to the stove or water-heater. Those trucks drive around dropping off and picking up gas canisters. So, if you ever come to Chile, you want fall for the tourist trap of flagging down a gas truck trying to buy ice cream! :)
I love my mission!
Victoria and Marcelo were baptized and confirmed this week, but not easily. Let me explain… As I wrote last week, Victoria had to have a special interview with President Escárate. We thought that he would just cover certain parts of the baptismal interview and that Elder Do Nacimento (our district leader) would do the rest. So, last Sunday when Victoria had her interview, we did not have the proper baptismal document that needed to be signed. President Escárate told us to leave the document in the mission office and he would come in and sign it. We left the document in the office on Monday and called the office missionaries every day to see if President had come in to sign it each day until Thursday. Every time we called they told us that he had not.
Then on Thursday, we called President Escárate and he said that he was up north and would not be able to sign it. President Gillespie was also up north so he would not be able to take care of it. We called him and after teaching us about being prepared, he told us that just this once, our zone leader could sign it.
Elder Boyd and I then went to the mission office to get the document. We then went to the Registro Civil (the civil register?) to go find out the birth dates of Victoria´s parents and of Marcelo´s father. It was pretty crazy, all we had to do was tell them the names, give them $750 pesos (the equivalent of about $1.50 USD), and then gave us their birth certificates.
Then on Saturday, Marcelo and Victoria arrived about an hour and a half late to the baptism. That was quite a scare! We kept calling and we passed by their house, but in the end they came. The baptismal service was short and sweet –as they should be. I sang a solo. Then I baptized Marcelo and Elder Boyd baptized Victoria. Yesterday, they were confirmed in the church.
This Saturday, Elder Boyd and I will be going with the ward and Victoria and Marcelo on the ward temple trip!!! I am so excited.
However, because of that trip, we don´t get p-day today and my computer time is shortened. I will write more next week.
This is God´s work and I love it. I love my mission!
This week has been a good week and Elder Boyd and I are doing well despite bipolar weather. Yes, the weather is bipolar and changes quicker than you can change your clothes. Right now it is nice and sunny outside, but the past few days it has been foggy, freezing and not much fun. We have worn our jackets, sweaters and gloves everyday this week. Even more than that, the sun is fully set at six in the afternoon, so we still work for more than three hours in the dark of night.
I´d like to share a cool experience that we had this week. However, to begin we have to go back a couple weeks. There is a family who´s last name is Azocar. We have passed by their house many times in the past few months, but they never have been home. However, a few months ago, we finally found them at home. They let us in and we were able to share something with them. At the end of the lesson, we tried to set-up another appointment, but they were going to leave for a few months, so we just left them our phone number instead. That was three weeks ago. Also, Victoria (our investigator) was let go from work a couple months ago and has been looking for a job. We have been helping her look as well. In one of our lessons, we promised her that as she shows the Lord her desires to follow Him, He would bless her and help her find a job. All of us have been praying that she could find a good job that wouldn´t make her work on Sunday.
Well, this Monday night we were in the apartment planning when the phone rang. Brother Azocar was calling us. I picked it up and he told me that he was the boss at a supermarket and needed workers. He asked us if we knew anyone that needed a job. He said that he just had a feeling that he should call us. We told him about Victoria and gave him her number. Tuesday afternoon Victoria had an interview. Now we are just waiting for the results of a psychological test to see if she got the job. Furthermore, if Victoria gets the job, Hermano Azocar will be her boss and he said he´ll work it out so she won´t have to work on Sundays. –Another tender mercy of the Lord.
Speaking of Victoria, she and Marcelo passed their interviews! Woohoo! They will be baptized this Saturday. Victoria did give us quite a scare. Apparently she had a pretty crazy teenage life in the 70´s and had to have an interview with President Gillespie. He was in the north this weekend, so Victoria had an interview with one of his counselors. She has repented of all the crazy things she may have done and is super excited for her baptism this week. We have also talked to them a lot about the temple and they are excited to go to the temple with the ward on the 28th. Elder Boyd and I are still waiting for permission to see if we can go or not.
Apart from Victoria and Marcelo, none of our investigators came to church. It was really sad because we expected five investigators. However, we just have to keep fighting, keep working diligently and we will see the fruits of our work.
I have told you a few times about my song "Return With Honor." Well, here are the lyrics in their current version:
Trembling hands and racing heart
I pull the envelope apart
A letter signed by the prophet of the Lord
Telling me, "you are called to serve"
Just two more months left to prepare
Two more months and I´ll be there
A worker and a witness of the truth
Bringing to all the good news
I´ll read my scriptures everyday
And constantly I´ll pray
That I can find my lost sisters and brothers
I will prepare today to return with honor
I can´t believe that I´m really here
When I look in the mirror
There I see His name pinned on my chest
To honor Him, I will do my best
Give every minute of every single day
If I get tired or think selfishly
I´ll remember having heard these words:
"Forget yourself and get to work"
"When it gets to hard to stand anymore
"Fall to your knees, call out to the Lord
"Serve with an eye single to the Glory of the Father
"And you will return with honor"
One more day before I go home
The past two years weren´t very long
Looking back it passed in the blink of an eye
But I used every second of my time
I´ve learned so much and come so far
Server with my might, my mind, my heart
My joy has never been so full
For great is the worth of souls
Clenched hands and pleading heart
I tell the Lord I´ve done my part
Here from my knees I cry
"Do you accept my sacrifice?"
Peace flows from heaven above
Wrapped in arms of perfect love
I hear the whisper of my Father
"My son, you have returned with honor"
Return with honor
I love my mission and will return with honor.
It was so wonderful to be able to talk to [family] yesterday. . . .
In my letters I have always talked about how "the witness comes after the trial of our faith." Well, thus far, this area has been rather difficult or "trialing." We work hard, we are creative and we are obedient but our efforts have not been very fruitful. It can get discouraging at times (but only if you let it get to you— and I don´t let it). Through all the trials, hard work, and prayers, I have thought about a few things. One of the things that I have pondered is the Lord´s promise in Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 which says, "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." I have been looking for ways to be more obedient. I have held myself accountable before the Lord to show Him that I have done, am doing and will do what He says. By doing that, I knew that the Lord would keep His promise, in His due time, and bless us with success.
I have also pondered about the phrase, "the Lord loves us enough to test us." He gave us this chance to show our true colors, to increase our faith and develop His love. Although, thus far the work has been rather slow here in Gomez Carreño, I have seen great changes and developments in myself.
This week we were able to see the Lord´s hand and His tender mercies in the work. Last week we had two investigators (Marcelo and Victoria) who were preparing themselves for baptism on set dates. They are doing well, but we have had to take the lessons slowly with them, so their new date is the 22nd. This week, we now have six investigators preparing for baptism.
One of those, you already have met—Veronica. Veronica was an investigator that Elder Lecaros and I had. She was not ready at that time and we had to drop her for a while. However, this week, we decided to visit her again. This time, she was more receiving and accepted a baptismal date for the end of June. –A tender mercy of the Lord.
Also, we were able to set a baptismal date with an investigator with a woman named Nancy. Nancy is another investigator from the transfer with Elder Lecaros. However, she has been very busy and has not had any time for us until now. This last week her work schedule changed and some family members moved out of the house, giving Nancy more time to listen to us. Her late brother was a faithful member in the church. Her love towards him has helped her develop the desire to learn more about the Gospel and accept baptism. –Another tender mercy of the Lord.
On the phone yesterday I told you about Teresa and Marionela. Their story is rather interesting… A few months ago, the Achupallas stake reorganized its boundaries, forming the current wards and areas. When this was done, part of another ward was transferred to Gomez Carreño. However, the missionaries were not told. This last week, the missionaries in the "old ward" baptized an investigator from that area. That is when the mistake was discovered, they had been working in our area for the last few months. We had a meeting and they transferred the information about that area to Elder Boyd and I. Teresa and her family live in that area. Teresa already had date and this week we were able to put a baptismal date with her daughter as well. I do feel bad for the other elders who were working in that area, but it had to be done. After all, the Lord´s house is a house of order.
I know that the Lord loves us all very much. He surrounds us with beauty and pours out His tender mercies to us. I love you all!
I love my mission!
¡Recibí su paquete! Muchisimas gracias. [I received your package! Thank you very much.] Beef jerky, ranch dressing and fruit snacks never tasted soooooo very good. Especially all mixed together! Okay, I haven´t tried that yet, but there is still time...
This week has been a rather hard week. We were not able to teach very many lessons. For various reasons all of our planned appointments one by one fell through. Even Victoria and Marcelo cancelled on us (for legitimate reasons). However, despite all this hardship, it was a good week. Why was it a good week, you may ask. Well let me tell you. I love my mission. Even though we were "rejected" I was still able to feel the Lord´s hand and His love. I know that I did all I can and the Lord will accept my sacrifice.
Even though Victoria and Marcelo have cancelled our lessons this last week, they are doing very well. They were not able to come to church yesterday (stake conference) because Victoria´s daughter, Brisa, (who works a night job) had not returned from work. Victoria had to stay home with Brisa´s child, Leon. When we called Victoria to see why she hadn´t come, she said that she was waiting for Brisa and that "Brisa needs to be more responsible so that Victoria and Marcelo can go to church and learn." They are wonderful. I love them so much.
My letter is short, for we [family] shall talk soon.
I love my mission!
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
This week is transfers. I cannot believe that six weeks have already passed. Each transfer seems to go faster and faster. When they say that time flies, they must mean that they dropped it out of a plane. When it first falls, it is not moving very fast. However, as time goes on (pun intended) the velocity gets faster and faster. I will hit nine months of my mission this week. That I cannot believe. I feel like I just hugged mom goodbye yesterday. Now don't think that I am "trunky" in the least bit, for it is quite the opposite. I have to work hard and use every second of my time while I have it. "Behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors" [Book of Mormon, Alma 34:32].
Well I'm sure that you are all sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to hear the results of this transfer. Would you like to know where I am going? Am I returning to the North? Am I staying in the South? Who will be my new companion? You will have to just wait to find out. After all, patience is a virtue.
This week I experienced something new in the mission: a rainstorm. We woke up on Friday morning to find that it was a dark, overcast, rainy day. The rain continued until about six in the afternoon and then it let up. That day I was on companion exchanges with an Elder Junker. Since he did not have his jacket, we both went out to work in our usually garb of a white shirt and tie. We did, however, manage to find some semifunctional umbrellas in the apartment. However, by the end of the day, it did not make a difference. We were soaked.
As I thought about the day, I remembered a certain day 2,000 years ago. It just so happened to be that on this last Friday, we commemorated the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The "ugly day" that we had here on Friday helped me think of Christ and His sacrifice for us. It seemed that even Mother Nature was commemorating that monumental day.
Marcelo and Victoria are doing really well. On Sunday I called them to remind them about church and that a member would come by to bring them to the chapel. I sat at the piano playing prelude when the Duarte Family (the family that was going to bring Marcelo and Victoria) came in. Victoria and Marcelo were not with them. Hermana Duarte gave me an apologetic look and shrugged her shoulders. I felt so sad. They had not come. My heart groaned inside as I said a quick prayer in my head that somehow, they would come. Sacrament meeting stared and ended. They did not arrive. Then halfway through Sunday School, one of the members came and told me that a lady had arrived with her son. I quickly jumped out of my seat and ran to the hall. There they were--Marcelo and Victoria had come!
I love my mission so much and I learn so much every single day.
Esta semana ha sido muy buena. [This week has been very good.]
This week we had a mission conference. A couple of weeks ago Hermana Gillespie called me and asked me to prepare a musical number with my zone for the conference, using the hymn "Jesus the Very thought of Thee." It is kind of hard to rehearse a musical number here in the mission. However, I arranged a version of the hymn for my zone to sing as I accompanied them on the piano. We rehearsed the number at our zone meeting on Wednesday and then on Thursday we sang in the conference. The zone did a wonderful job and even brought tears to Hermana Gillespie´s eyes and some of the sister
missionaries´ eyes as well.
At the end of the conference, we had a scripture chase activity. Separated into our appropriate zones, we sat face to face with our companion. Then the fun began. The assistants would read a passage of scripture or a phrase from Preach My Gospel and we had to beat our opponent to the page. The winners would move up the line and the losers would move down. The goal was to get to the head of the line. In the end, the five champions from each of the zones (one from each) got on the stage for the final round. All the missionaries were cheering and yelling for their zone´s representative. After one round, the cheering got even louder and louder. President held up his hand to silence the crowd. He walked across the room as we all watched and waited. He then stopped in the center of the room and quickly removed his tie. President held his tie in the air and indicated that the winner would receive his tie as a prize. The activity was a lot of fun and taught me that I need to study my scriptures a lot more and much better.
On Saturday I had a new, interesting experience. I was the organist (keyboard set to the organ setting) at a funeral. Let me explain. On Friday, we were passing by the church and saw that it was open. My companion and I entered to find the bishop and his family cleaning the church. They explained to me that a member had died and that the church would be having the funeral the next day. They also explained to me that I would be playing the organ. Almost all of the member´s family are not members, so it must have been rather strange to see me, a random gringo missionary playing the piano at their dear family member´s/friend´s funeral. Also, Elder Boyd was one of four people to sing in two special musical numbers at the funeral--two random gringos playing and singing at a funeral.
Yesterday was a wonderful Sunday. We had six less active members, with whom we have been working, attend church. Also, Victoria and Marcelo came to church for the first time. Even though yesterday was Victoria´s birthday, she still set aside the time to come to church. They are progressing very well. Also, they have made friends with the members of ward and that will help them a lot on their journey.
My time is up. I love you all so much. I know that Christ lives. I know that He suffered and died for each one of us, but on the third day he rose from the grave in a perfected and immortal body. He is risen!
I love my mission!