April 7th, 2014
We didn't have any weddings this week, but I'm almost home, so I thought I'd stick with the marriage theme.
First of all, thanks for reminding me that it was going to be my birthday this week! Because if not, I just might have forgotten. I was actually forgetting until I logged on to my email account and saw 130 new messages today. Thanks everyone! I'm sure it'll be a great day. And special thanks to Granny and Jay for the package--yes it made it!
Well, I don't have a whole ton of time left--lots to do on the computer today, if you can believe it. Anyways, we had a pretty good week. I kind of forgot how stressful and hard training a new missionary is. Not that Elder C is difficult, it would be hard with anyone. He's a good kid and doesn't complain about anything, but in two weeks in the MTC they can't teach them a whole lot. I'm really tired! Hopefully he learns what he needs to from me.
Remember how last Thursday we found 7 new investigators? Well, one of them who I didn't tell you about was R. We were walking down the street and she was sitting outside her house and we felt strongly that we should talk to her. She told us that she really didn't know anything about God and was a little frustrated because she's gone to the Catholic church but doesn't feel like she learns anything because she doesn't know how to read. We said a little prayer with her right there in the street, invited her to church, and put an appointment to go back on Sunday. On Sunday she was waiting for us and introduced us to her husband, J. They're both in their 60s and they've been married for only 6 years. They were both widowed and miraculously met and got married. Quite the story that I don't have time to tell. J doesn't know how to read either, so that's a major obstacle, but we've been teaching them almost every day since Tuesday and their faith has grown a lot already. R told us that she really has a spiritual hunger and would just get so frustrated sometimes because she couldn't find anything to satisfy it. She says that this whole week, since we said the prayer with her in the street, she's felt better. They came to the Saturday morning session of conference and to both sessions on Sunday. Also, we introduced them to our branch president who told them that he had seen some manuals to help someone learn to read in the church. The next day we stopped by to meet a member to come with us to a lesson and he was there in his office. He had found the manuals--one for the teacher and for the person who wants to learn to read. The member who was going to come with us just happens to be a kindergarten teacher (the primary president), so he gave her the teacher's manual and gave her the assignment to teach R and J how to read, and she accepted. So starting tomorrow she's going to start giving them reading classes. Love this branch. Hopefully they can learn how to read quickly so that they can read the Book of Mormon, because until they read it it'll be hard for them to really have a strong testimony.
Wednesday was a day I'll never forget. Almost all morning we had lessons fall through, and in the afternoon it looked like it would follow the same pattern after two more fell through. It was about 5:00 and we had visited all our plan a's and plan b's up to that point, so I said a prayer to ask Heavenly Father where we should go. The thought came to me that Elder C already knew where we should go, so I asked him and he said that we should go with the C family. Remember them? It's the pure-bred Lamanite family we met a few weeks ago that hardly speaks Spanish. We hadn't seen them for a while at this point, like almost a week. Usually they don't get home from work until about 8:00, so I was thinking, "Ok, they're probably not home but there's probably someone on the way that we're supposed to talk to." But on the way there there was literally nobody in the street, and when we got there, sure enough, there was the whole family. Brother C was sitting outside with a can of beer and when we got there he told us that he had given up on himself--he had been addicted to alcohol for too long and wasn't going to be able to quit. But he asked us to keep visiting his kids so that they wouldn't follow his example. We asked him if we could say a prayer and talk a little more and he said yes. He wasn't drunk yet, so I wanted to give it one last try. We gathered the whole family and after the prayer I knew we had to teach him about the Atonement, but recognizing that they really don't know anything about Christ, we started from the beginning. Elder C has this book of Gospel art, so we pulled it out and went page by page, starting with Christ's birth, explaining to them all the events of His life. We talked about His baptism, His miracles, His teachings, His suffering in Gethsemane, His death on the cross, and His Resurrection. They were filled with wonder and amazement. With each new picture they seemed more and more captivated, and more and more convinced of the truth of all we were telling them. After talking about the Resurrection, we asked Brother C "If this man had power to do all these things, do you think he can help you stop drinking?" He said yes. We invited them to be baptized. They all said yes. We invited them to keep praying and to come to church on sunday and they said they would. The last picture in the art book was of the second coming. We explained to them that Christ one day will come back, that He still lives and loves each one of them. I hadn't felt the Spirit that strong for a long time. They didn't end up coming to church on sunday, and they're not sure how much time they're still going to be here in C, but it was still such an amazing experience to be able to teach these people who knew absolutely nothing about Christ who He is. He is the Savior, and He has power to save each one of us. To top it off, that night C and V came with us to visit an investigator, J, and they're super awesome and shared super powerful testimonies in the lesson. And he did come to church.
Well, that's how things are going right now. I'm out of time and really don't have much else to report. Thanks for your love and prayers. Have a fantastic week!
April 17th, 2014
So spring break just started this week here, so we decided to go on vacation as well. Ok not really but we're not going to be in our area for like half of the week. Tomorrow we have district class in M and tomorrow night we have to be in G at 9:00 because Elder C has to figure something out with his visa Wednesday morning, and then Wednesday afternoon we have a follow up meeting with President Wagner for all the new missionaries and their trainers, so won't be getting back here until like Thursday. I'm a little bit worried since that's a lot of time without being able to see our investigators and converts, so remember them all in your prayers! And if anyone's going to the temple, it would be just great if you could put their names on the prayer roll there as well. Especially V and R Paniagua. Thanks.
We had a pretty awesome week. R and J have been going to the church every other day so that the Primary president can teach them how to read. This branch really just has the greatest members. They're more and more convinced now that this is the true church and R is excited to be baptized. Also, it turns out that R's son in law, who died three years ago in an accident at work, just happens to be Brother D's brother, and when he heard she had been listening to us and that she has a baptismal date he got super excited and came back to church this week! He told us that when he got baptized, she was one of the first people to criticize him and tell him not to. The Lord really does prepare people to receive the gospel. Look at her now. Our branch president's wife told us that she stood up in relief society this sunday and basically bore her testimony to everyone about how she was stressed out and frustrated one day and went outside her house when all of a sudden we came by and talked to her and from that moment on she has been happy and peaceful and knows that the church is true. Yes!
J is still doing great. We've been teaching him the commandments this week and so far so good. The only ones left are the law of chastity and the word of wisdom, and I really doubt he has a problem with either of them. He's halfway through 2 Nephi and came to church all by himself this week and stayed for 3 hours. Unfortunately, his family remains completely uninterested. Hopefully someday soon they'll listen. We're really hoping we can get them to come to his baptism in a few weeks and maybe from there on things will change.
Wendesday we had interviews with President Wagner. He told me that Elder R begged and begged and begged to be my companion again for my last transfer, and that he remembers his time with me as the "golden days." We both found that to be really funny. But it was good because he also told me that he's come a long way. Also I asked him for advice for how to finish off the last two months of my mission and he said not to think about it, talk about it, write about it, or do anything different. Don't let the members know, don't mention it in your letters, just business as usual. So in the letters you write me just pretend like I'm going to be staying here for another 3 years (and if it were up to me, I just might:).
On Thursday we were walking to a lesson when a lady stopped us on the street and told us she wanted us to go visit her. Her name is M and she and her husband S had listened to the missionaries a few years ago and were about to get baptized but S didn't pass his interview and they kind of lost interest after that. But apparently they've had "problems" in their marriage lately and want help. We went Friday and taught them the Restoration. They accepted a baptismal date for May 17th, but they didn't come to church and we couldn't find them afterwards so we'll see what happens.
On Friday we were walking down the street and a young couple was walking towards us and we felt like we should talk to them. We did and they gave us their address. We went by Saturday and they're super awesome. Their names are G and M , they met in Mexico City and lived their for a while. While they were there, they started going to some church and got baptized, but when they got here, they started listening to the Jehovah's witnesses who told them their baptism wasn't valid (thank you!) so now they're kind of confused about what they should do. Actually, not anymore, because we taught them the Restoration and they understood and accepted everything, including a baptismal date (May 24th). They're not legally married, but they know that they need to be and have already been gathering together the papers they need. They came to church yesterday even though G has a nasty cut in his leg and can barely walk and stayed the whole three hours, and we're super excited to go visit them in a few hours.
Before the lesson with them on Saturday, we felt like we should talk to a lady sitting in a chair in front of her house. She was totally not interested, but she told us the names of three of her neighbors so we went to contact them. One of them was G and his wife C. When we contacted them, I felt strongly that I should talk about families. He accepted another appointment and we went sunday afternoon. Apparently, they've just recently started to have problems with their marriage and really need help. Also, they have 2 little daughters and had another one that died as a baby 2 years ago, so when we taught about eternal families the spirit was really strong. They also accepted a baptismal date for May 24th. So basically, the Spirit has been guiding us to the people who are ready to receive the gospel, and they are many. Truly, the field is white already to harvest.
E spoke in sacrament meeting yesterday. She's so great. C, her, and L also are visiting teachers now and they're going to call L as the first counselor in the relief society presidency. Our converts are going to help so much in this branch!
Basically, I'm loving my life. Preach my Gospel says that there is no other work that is more important, or more rewarding, than missionary work, and I know that's true! It would be foolishness for someone to have the opportunity to serve a mission and turn it down. You're only hurting yourself. God's work will go forth, the only thing that's left to decide is if we will have the joy of participating in it or not. Count me in.
Have a great week everyone! I love you all!