Thursday, August 15, 2013

Letters from August 5th and 12th, 2013

What to write?  Other than that I'm only a little bit jealous about you guys going to Disneyland.  Only a little bit.  Because I'd much rather be here.  

This week we became detectives.  We could seriously make a movie about this one family in our ward and all the things that are going on there.  I won't go in to details, but basically we've been teaching--individually--different members of the family to find out what exactly is going on and how to help them. It's nothing the Atonement can't fix.  And this same family has given us a bunch of referrals.  One of them is E, who didn't seem super interested at first but ended up accepting a baptismal date for the 24th after the lesson.  But she didn't come to church and was nowhere to be found on Sunday, so we'll see what happens.  Another one is M, who insists that everything is true, that she believes everything we say, but doesn't want to get baptized, read the Book of Mormon, or go to church.   

We are still working with D.  We had a lesson with her on Thursday.  On Friday I was on splits with our Zone Leader, Elder D. We decided to teach her the Restoration AGAIN, to see if she'd really catch the idea this time.  We focused the whole lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ--really explaining that it means Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  I've found that we use the word "Gospel" a lot because it's a word the investigators are more comfortable with, because it's something they hear in the Catholic Church.  But if they understand that the Gospel of Christ is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, Endure to the end, they're not as surprised when we invite them to be baptized after the first visit.  They understand that these principles are ordinances were lost in the apostasy and the need that there was for them to be restored.  It was an awesome lesson--one of those lessons where I even learn a ton--and she was able to commit to go to church this week and get baptized the 17th.  But then she didn't go to church.  Bummer.  Not sure what to do there.  We went by her house and she said she felt sick to her stomach.  But she went to work that day and everything, and her job is literally 2 blocks from the chapel and she entered just an hour after sacrament meeting ended, so...yeah.  I don't know if it was a legit excuse or not.  But we'll keep trying.  As President Wagner said, if it was my child that wasn't a member of the church, I would keep trying all my life until she got baptized.  And when Elder Christofferson was here, he said that when an investigator is still willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it's true, there's still something to work with there.  

Friday night Elder D and I went for tacos.  We got them to go and when we were eating them in the house I noticed something black and unusually large mixed in with the meat.  After closer examination, I realized that it was a dead beetle!!!  Ruined my appetite.  But luckily the tacos didn't make me sick.  I think after two years in Mexico my stomach will be immune to anything.

Saturday we had a baptism for S.  It was great.  His mom, who isn't a member, and his uncle, who also isn't a member, came and said they liked it.  Someday they'll listen to us!!!  It was a very spiritual service.  His grandpa baptized him and that was really special.  There weren't quite as many members as L's baptism, but it was still good.

Remember that little red VW Beetle (there's that word again, hence the subject of this letter) that we taped a fridge to a couple weeks ago?  This week we brought a family of 5 less actives to church in it, plus my companion and I and the member who was driving.  8 people in all.  That little car has become about as legendary as Buster.

Also on Sunday, our Elder's quorum president pulled us out of Sunday School to tell us that he wasn't feeling well, that he wanted us to teach the class in Elder's Quorum and that he wanted it to be a training on how to use Preach my Gospel.  Elder D made me do it by myself, but I think it went well.  Also, the Bishop asked me to give the opening prayer in sacrament meeting, so it looks like we're starting to gain a little bit more trust from the leaders of this ward.  I hope I can stay here for a while longer to see what happens.  

Have a fun trip!!!  See you in 10 months!!!  

Elder Pew  

What a week.  Good times.  Not Disneyland, but hey, good enough.  

So basically, over there by the Volcano, there's a little neighborhood of people who live in little houses built illegally--because the construction of houses there could cause the volcano to wake up and destroy all of G.  L's family lives there and L's sister-in-law's brother's family.  And the wife of L's sister-in-law's brother knows every living soul in this neighborhood and is one of those people who is "not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ" (Romans 1:16).  And one day this week, in a three hour span, she gave us 4 referrals, brought us to contact 5 others, helped us find 4 new investigators, teach 3 lessons with a member, and put 3 baptismal dates.  Whazzup!  So basically we spend all our time up there on the hill, because the rest of our area is full of apartment buildings and condos and people who generally don't want to listen to us.  

One of the new people we met this week thanks to that one member was a family of 6.  The dad is an excommunicated-Jehovah´s witness, the mom doesn't claim to be part of any particular religion but is very religious and loves learning more about God, and they have four kids, all under the age of 12, 3 of which are baptismal age and also are very interested in the Bible, religion, and all that.  We still haven't met the dad, but the rest of them seem pretty golden.  The bad thing is that we can only visit them 1 or two times a week, but we're excited to go back to teach them.  

Another one of those people was M.  She introduced us to him on the street. We put an appointment to visit him on Sunday and it went really well.  He told us that he thinks he should be baptized now that he's older and responsible, that he wants to change and be a better person and that he'll get baptized on August 31st!!!  So the plan is to have a "Volcan del Colli" branch by the end of the next transfer. (just kidding, but it would be pretty sweet).  

We found another new investigator this week named E.  She is our neighbor and lives in the same apartment building.  We met her a few weeks ago and she had told us that we could visit her this week, because her brothers were coming from out of town to visit and she was going to be busy.  So we called her Friday night and she told us to come over Saturday in the afternoon.  We had an awesome lesson with her.  She told us that in the past few years, she has lost her mom and two of her brothers and that those experiences have helped her feel the presence of God more in her life.  I felt like I should ask her "What does it feel like to you when you feel the presence of God?" And she responded with a powerful story about how she had an amazing spiritual experience a few nights before her mom died.  It was amazing and completely changed the tone of the lesson.  She started crying and the Spirit was really strong.  We taught her a little about the restoration and baptism and she accepted!  She couldn't come to church yesterday but she is going to come this week.  

I think the coolest experience this week was a baptism Saturday night. Remember the baptismal candidate I had to fail the other week?  He got baptized this week.  His name is V and he is 15 years old.  The other Elders have been teaching him for almost two transfers now, but after going to EFY about a month ago he decided to get baptized.  His parents aren't members--they're actually from a little town in Oaxaca and their first language is a dialect called Zapoteco.  They listen sometimes when the missionaries go over but have never really progressed.  They live in a little neighborhood full of other people from Oaxaca and they are all related somehow.  The cool thing was that V invited all his little friends to his baptism--5 kids from his neighborhood came!  His parents also went and loved it!  They were both crying the whole time and his dad told me at one point "There's a really beautiful feeling here.  Now that I'm here, I'm going to come back every Sunday!"  After the baptism, I asked him when he was going to be baptized, and he said that after a few weeks of coming to church he thought he'd be ready.  It was quite the experience.  He came to church with his wife yesterday, and they were crying the whole time again.  Another young man from the ward baptized V, which was awesome.  Also, they asked me to give a "missionary message" while they were changing after the ordinance, so I pretty much made up a 7 minute talk on the spot and it turned out pretty cool.  Someday I'll teach the same lesson in family night :)

You may be wondering about the subject line to this email. These are the reasons:

Yesterday I come walking into the church when I look over to the right and see someone strangely familiar.  E from S!!!  She had stayed over night with her twin sister who lives here in the city and she decided to come to our ward just to visit me!!!  She's so great.  She also brought be Sayula pan (bread).  Yum.  Sounds like everything's going well there with the change in Branch Presidency.  

Reason #2 We had a zone activity today.  We went to the chapel to play basketball, eat pizza, etc., when who should I see but Elder Al!!! What?  Apparently, he had special transfers a few weeks ago and is in a little town outside the city that belongs to the same zone.  Also, he's with Elder A's trainer, and was Elder R's companion for the last three basically we've had all the same companions, just in a different order.  Elder A hasn't changed a bit.  

How do I feel?  Allergic.  I'm taking Claritin and a cold medicine (it's the best remedy I've found down here so far) but they still bother me a lot.  Especially when I'm around horses, cats, dogs, and gerbils.  One day this week I felt a little druggy--like there was too much medicine inside me.  But I'm surviving.  My little amigos are all gone, as far as I know.  My stomach hasn't bothered me lately.  
This week we should be finding lots of new investigators, and we've made it our goal to work harder on bringing them to church.  We'll see what happens.  It's the last week of the transfer, so who knows where I'll be or who I'll be with next Monday.  I really don't know what to expect.  A dónde me mandes iré.

Have a great week everyone!  Love you!

Elder Pew