Sunday, December 1, 2013

November 25th, 2013

This week's subject line  (Que guchi?) brought to you by Elder R (MTC companion).  He wrote me this week.  Love that guy.  

Well, I hope you like big, long, loaded letters, because you're gonna get one from me in addition to the one that Timo already wrote.  By far the craziest week of my mission.  Here we go!

Monday:  The last normal day of my life that I can remember.

Tuesday:  District class.  It went well.  It had to be a motivating one since some missionaries in the district have had a rough time lately, but I think it helped.  Right after, I went with Elder C, one of our zone leaders, to P in exchanges.  All that we had planned for that day was to look for less active members from the ward lists, but it turned out really well.  We got to a little gated apartment building where supposedly there were members, but it was locked.  We decided to wait a little bit to see if someone came and opened it for us.  A guy showed up selling water, and I felt like we should contact him, so we did.  He almost accepted a visit, but didn't.  But exactly when he left, another guy showed up and we asked him if he was going to open the gate.  He told us that he was the building coordinator and let us in.  We went and knocked on the apartment that was on the list, and a 20 ish year old girl came out, scared that we were there to collect her rent for the month.  After laughing about that situation, we asked if she knew the person on the list.  She didn't, but when we started to explain that we're missionaries and that we had a message about Christ to teach them, she said, "Oh, come in."  So we did and taught her and her cousin the Restoration.  They understood EVERYTHING it was amazing!  When we taught the apostasy they asked us "Wait, how can we get baptized if nobody has authority to do it?"  YES!  We put a baptismal date for them, but since they're from a little town by the coast, they're going back to visit in December and won't be back until school starts again in February.  So I've been praying that they transfer me to that area before February.  Haha.

Then in the night, we were walking down the street looking for an adress and stopped outside a photography studio because it was the only light we could find to see the list.  A girl walked out of the studio a little weirded out that we were there, but when she saw that we were just using the light, she started moving boxes of christmas ornaments that were there in the sidewalk into the studio.  So we helped her and her sister move all the boxes in and talked to them about the church.  We put an appointment for Saturday night, and Elder C told me yesterday that they went and put baptismal dates with them and their mom.  In the two exchanges that Elder C and I have been on together, we've found three new investigators, put three baptismal dates, and contacted two people that led to three other baptismal dates.  Why aren't we companions?

On Wednesday I went to E with Elder S.  We didn't have quite as much success as the day before, but all the members there love me and are super excited when I go back to visit.  Also, I learned a lot about charity in my personal study that day that I was able to teach to Elder S.  I think it helped.  We have the goal as a mission to do at least 10 contacts every day, every companionship.  They hadn't been doing it the last few weeks, but after the exchanges they were able to meet the goal this week.  

I finally came back to my area Thursday morning and we had weekly planning, lunch, and 3 hours of work before we had to go to the conference with Elder Johnson.  MAN was it good.  He started out on a rant.  He said "How many of you believe that God loves every person in this city?"  And then when everyone raised their hands, he said "I don't believe you.  How many of you have given a referral to the misionaries in the last month?   (about 12 hands went up)  These are the ones I believe!"  He then went on to say, almost yell, that the ONLY reason that God has blessed us to be members of the church and to have recieved the gospel is to take it to other people.  He explained that God's work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, which is the same as the missionaries' purpose, which is the only purpose any of us should have either.  He told the members that it is not their role to decide who is ready to receive the gospel and who isn't.  They have to give the chance to EVERYONE and let the Lord and the missionaries do the rest.  He then divided us into our ward counsels and told us to make two lists:  one of people that came to the members' minds that we could go teach, and another of less actives that they wanted us to visit. He then explained that this is what ward counsel should be like, every week adding more names to the list and planning how to work together with the missionaries to bring them to Christ.  He also gave us instructions as missionaries: never leave a house without teaching a principle from the missionary lessons, and never leave a house without the name of a new person to teach.  We've been really focusing on that and it's gone really well.  So far, we've been able to receive referrals from every single person we have visited since the conference.  Potential.  

Since it was a meeting for all the stakes in G, Elder D and Elder V were both there.  Sounds like everything's going well for them.  Also, there's a few missionaries in our stake who are in little towns outside of the city, and since we had zone conference the next morning at 8:30, two different companionships stayed over at our house that night, one of them being Elder A.  He hasn't changed a bit.  Quite the party.

The zone conference was awesome.  We invited all the bishops and ward mission leaders from the stake to come if they could, and our bishop came for a little bit and absolutely loved it!  President talked a lot about the relationship we have with ward leaders and how we can work together, and then gave our bishop the chance to speak a little bit more.  He basically just told everyone how much he loves the missionaries in his ward and how excited he is to be a part of the work with us.  Love that guy.  Later, President got to the deep doctrine part of the conference and taught us so much in so little time that I´m still having a hard time wrapping my head around it all.  He talked about the Abrahamic covenant and the blessings of eternal marriage, and told us to call him if we felt like being idiots after the mission by not getting married in the temple so that he could talk some sense into us.  It was funny, but he was pretty serious about it. What the heck it just started raining like crazy out of nowhere!  Ah, he also talked about foreordination (I have no idea how to spell that word but you'll get it), patriarchal blessings, the restoration, the Book of Mormon, Malachi 4:5-6, too much to take in at once.  I wish I would have videoed the whole thing. It was awesome.  Anyways, the conference lasted until about 4, so by the end of Friday I had spent a grand total of 12 hours working in my area.  

And Saturday it didn't slow down.  Drum roll please:  I went to T!  I went with Elder K again, and it went really, really well!  We went to visit a family that I hadn't met before.  They have 7 kids, the oldest three are members and there's two others that weren't old enough to get baptized when they pulled the missionaries out, but that are 10 and 9 years old now.  They live with their mom and grandma, the dad is in the US working.  They told us that the oldest daughter, C, who's about 16, has had health problems.  She's had anemia which has also caused problems with her kidneys, and for about a year she's been sick and hasn't been able to go to school.  It's been really hard for them.  We taught them about the Atonement and the Restoration and then Branch President M gave C a blessing.  It was amazing.  They are a really great family.  President M told us that when the family went inactive, C walked to teach by herself every Sunday for about a year until she finally stopped going too.  They all told us that they had read the Book of Mormon and know it's true and that they are going to start reading it again.  They also said that they would go to church on Sunday.  

We also visited the M family and taught them the Restoration.  It was a good lesson, I really like teaching with Elder K.  They didn't make it to church on Sunday though, so it's going to take a little more work with them.  We stopped by quickly to visit another family, where there's about 6 kids that are members but none of the parents are because they are alcoholics.  It was a sad situation to see--all the suffering those parents cause for their children.  But we told them we'd be back the next day to take them to church and they were excited.  

Sunday wanted to fit in so it also decided to be really weird.  Another stake here in G had their stake conference, but they don't have a stake center big enough to fit everyone, so they had it here in our chapel.  Which meant that we had to just have our sacrament meeting, at 8:00 so we could be out of there at 9:15 because the stake conference was going to start at 10, and that we had to be combined with E.  Oh, and just to make it a little crazier, we got a text message from our Bishop during the sacrament hymn asking us if we could help him out since three of the speakers hadn't shown up.  So Elder B, Elder R and I gave improvised talks.  I went first.  It was cool to be able to talk to the two wards sinced I'd served in both of them.  I talked about missionary work, some day I'll give you the details because it was probably the best talk I've ever given. I felt very inspired and got compliments all day about it.  I walked off the stand and out the door with Elder K to catch our ride to T.  As we pulled up to the house of prayer, C and her family were just getting there.  I wanted to cry.  They live WAY on the outskirts of town and walked all the way there to make it to church, despite the sickness.  Amazing.  The other family of little kids also made it, and all in all we had an attendance of 46 people!  It was branch conference, so there were a lot of stake leaders there, but still, it was an amazing sight.  There was no more space in the tiny sacrament meeting room.  11 less actives and 2 investigators showed up, and in the third hour during the priesthood class the Stake president made specific plans to support the branch more so that they can go to the temple, receive visits from stake leaders and the missionaries, and prepare to have full time missionaries.  If they follow through with all that, there could be missionaries there in 2-3 months.  YES!

We got back just in time for more madness.  There was a stake activity that night called "My missionary experiences" and they wanted all the missionaries to sing a special number in it.  We hadn't practiced, so we scheduled a practice at 4:00 on sunday.  We got back from T at 3:55.  After the rehearsal we had just enough time to go back to our area, contact 5 people, receive a referral, and put two appointments for Wednesday before having to run back for the activity. It was a great activity that basically consisted of different members, including Pres. Wagner, sharing experiences that they had had on their mission to try to get the youth excited to serve a mission.  By the time we got to our musical number, everyone in the building was crying.  Great experience.  

And thus ended the craziest week of my life, ah no!  It kept going today.  Apparently there was some law changed that made it so that I had to go back and sign my visa AGAIN, so I spent all day today in the Centro until about 2:00 in the afternoon.  Adios p-day.  But yeah, tomorrow everything should be back to normal.  

I've got to go now!  Have a nice week everyone!  Happy Thanksgiving!  Love you!

Elder Pew
Elder Pew's zone after zone conference

Zone Conference candid shot