Friday, April 4, 2014

March 24th & 31st 2014 and photos!

March 24th, 2014
THIS IS IT!  (shout out to all LP alumni 2011)  The week that C and V get married!  C has her ID now, so all that's left is the premarital lecture the government makes them take, and then turn in all the papers and wait to see what day they give them for their wedding.  If they can get married before Saturday, they'll get baptized, if not, the week after general conference.  But MAN am I excited for that.  Its about time!  

Ok, well, I'll go in order now. I just couldn't contain myself with this last part.  Sorry for the super short, lame letters the last few weeks.  I feel bad, I really do.  So this week we're going to pretend like I just got to the mission and I want to write about every little thing that I did.  I think it'll help me not to get trunky, right?  Ok.

Well, Tuesday we were still in M.  We got up and went to district class.  Oh, I'm not district leader anymore, and man does it feel good.  After 11 months of preparing those classes I was really running out of ideas.  But anyways, Elder G is our district leader now and he did a great job.  At one point, he divided us into companionships and assigned us a scripture to study, which we would then share with the rest of the district.  We got Isaiah 58:13-14. I had never understood that scripture until now.  Read it and look for how it relates to the baptismal covenant and you'll learn a lot.  After district class, we went to lunch with a family who lives in M that used to live in C who gives us lunch every Tuesday since we're already there.  They're awesome.  Then on the bus ride we had our companionship study and I taught Elder C how to invite people to be baptized and gave him that job from here on out.  That day he invited about 4 people to be baptized: J, N, V, and M, plus a recently reactivated member named M, who also accepted the invitation.  Haha!  Guess I should have made it more clear that she was a member before we went in to the lesson.  I haven't talked about J yet, he's a new investigator we found contacting on Sunday.  He's about 61 and has listened to all kinds of different religions and has always wondered which is the true church!  So he was pretty interested when we talked about Joseph Smith.  On Tuesday we read 1 Nephi 13 with him to show him why there are so many churches and the need for the Restoration and how the Book of Mormon fits into the picture.  He was super interested and accpeted the invitation to be baptized on April 26th!  Also, we saw E, R and L's daughter who just had a baby, and she's recovered a lot now and told us she wanted to get baptized as soon as possible.  We told her she still had to go to church one more time so the fastest she could be baptized would be March 29th.  She agreed and is super excited!

On Wednesday we visited N again and tried to watch the Restoration video with her, but she really couldn't pay attention.  She is too overwhelmed by all her problems to be able to listen and understand what we were saying.  So we decided that in the next visit we would just go and let her vent.  We also saw C and V that day and taught them about the Pre-earth life and the fall.  They're great.  We pass around a calendar every Sunday in church where the members can sign up to come with us to the lessons during the week, and it's worked out really well.  They feel more committed to come with and we know now what days and at what time we'll have members available.  Anyways, M has been signing up to come with us just about every day of the week and has been sharing powerful testimonies to all the people we visit.  We saw R and L again and they're doing fantastic.  I love converts.  We had a lesson with V and M that night and we took a 22 year old member with us who is working on her mission papers right now.  We gave her the assignment to teach "endure to the end" in this lesson and it went really well.  There are so many ways to make a difference in missionary work--you don't only have an influence on the investigators but also on the members who you work with and your companions.  It feels good.

Thursday we visited N and as planned we just went and listened.  After about 20 minutes she said, "I've talked a lot now, sorry, teach me please!"  We didn't have anything planned, but we felt like teaching her about faith and miracles, so we read some of Ether 12 with her.  Her nephew, who is a member but who has been very inactive, was there also and even bore his testimony to her.  It was just different this time, the whole feeling of the lesson.  She liked it a lot and we left her 2 Nephi 2 to read for the next visit, since it answers one of the "questions of the soul" (Preach My Gospel, Chapter 5) that she has: "Why does God allow so much evil and suffering?"  We also visited the D family, who have been inactive the whole time I have been here but the last two weeks the dad and his 19 year old daughter D have actually gone.  D's actually been signing up to come with us to the lessons and has helped a lot.  Anyways, they're awesome and I love teaching them.  

Friday we went to M and contacted a referral the sisters in M had given us.  Her name is M and her sister is listening to the sister missionaries in M and is actually going to get baptized this week.  She's recently started to lose her sight--she says everything's gone blurry, and it's been a real trial for her.  So we gave her a blessing and put an appointment to come back.  We also visited E again and taught her about the Atonement.  She's already recognized the blessings she's received from Christ--she told us about an experience she had in the hospital when she was having her baby.  Apparently, they weren't sure she was going to live, but she said a prayer before the surgery and said she felt totally calm the whole time and knew everything was going to be fine.  And that, on top of the Relief Society President staying with her for a day in a half so her parents could get baptized, convinced her to get baptized as soon as she can.  We visited N again and she had read 2 Nephi 2 but said that she didn't understand it so we read it with her.  She loved it and understood a lot better the doctrine of the plan of salvation and the need for opposition in all things.  We found some sweet new investigators that day also--the C family.  They're from a little indian town in the mountains of G and they speak a dialect called Bisteco.  C and his kids speak decent Spanish, his wife hardly speaks it at all.  It's really cool to teach them because they believe everything we say, but we have to be very simple and clear because of the language barrier and because they have very, very little Christian background.  

Saturday we visited J again and invited him to church, he said he would go.  Yes!  Our branch President is doing a lot better now.  He's been came to church this week and last week and he's been coming with us to all the lessons with J.  Man did we miss him.  Saturday we went with N and read the end of 2 Nephi 2.  She loved it and it was fun to explain all the doctrine of the fall to her since she has some Jehovah's witness influences. She believed everything and is super pumped to read the Book of Mormon now.  She couldn't come to church because she had to go to Guadalajara to help M with something, but as soon as she gets back we'll visit her again.  We had a critical lesson with C and V that night.  We felt like we should teach them about fasting again and invite them to fast on Sunday so that everything went well this week.  We planned out to share with them Isaiah 58 (that chapter again) verses 6-11 to explain the blessings of fasting before we even finished reading it they were asking us at what time they should end their fast on Sunday if they started right then!  That's the Holy Ghost at its work!  

On Sunday, we went to pick up J to go to church and he came!  Also, we got there and a member from another town, L, had brought a friend who wanted to know more about the church.  So after the third hour we taught her right then. Her name is L, she has 12 year old and 9 year old boys and recently got divorced and is looking for God.  She said she felt good in church and we invited her to be baptized (meaning Elder C invited her to be baptized) and she accepted!  We can't go to L to visit her so we'll have to keep teaching her every Sunday in the church, so pray for her so that she can keep coming!  We also visited M again and taught her the Restoration and she also accepted a baptismal date!  Then we had a POWERFUL lesson about the Atonement with C and V.  It's fun to teach them because they've already heard the missionary lessons about 2 full times now and we can go a little deeper.  They were crying.  Oh, and they did fast, by the way, so it's all in God's hands!

Basically, it was a great week, and if the rest of my mission goes like this, I'll die happy!  This is God's true church and it is his work.  The Atonement is real. Have a great week!  I love you all and we'll see each other soon!

March 31st, 2014
WOW!  This week was just one of those classic battles between good and the war in heaven, Nephites vs Lamanites, the revolutionary war, and BYU vs. Utah.  Satan wanted to make his opinion very clear about what a certain 3 people were about to do.  I know understand a whole lot better the words to the hymn "Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war."  
Let's go day by day.
Monday-everything tranquilo.  The calm before the storm.
Tuesday- We go to visit E and she tells us she thinks it'll be better to wait one more week. I think it was a combination of nervousness because she had never actually seen baptism before and because she recently had a C-section operation 3 weeks ago and is still recovering.  But we told to pray about it and see what God says.  C and V were doing great, except that C´s boss didn't want to give her the day off on Thursday to go to the marriage lectures.  But she said if he didn't give her the day off, she was just going to miss work anyways.  
Wednesday:  We had district class and practiced using the scriptures to invite people to be baptized.  I don't know why i had stopped doing that.  Elder A and I always did and everyone always said yes!  so we decided to try it out with E that day.  We asked her at the beginning of the lesson if she had prayed and she said that she did but she still was feeling like waiting.  So we taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ and when we got to baptism, we whipped out Mosiah 18:8-10 where Alma basically explains the baptismal covenant and says "if this is the desire of your heart, why don't you get baptized?"  So after reading it we asked her the same question "Is this the desire of your heart?"  "Yes."  "Then what is keeping you from getting baptized?"  She thought about it for a little bit and said "nothing.  I've prepared, I'm keeping the commandments, I'm ready, nothing's keeping me from doing it."  "Then why wait?"  "Ok, I'll get baptized this Saturday."  YES!
C and V were still doing fine that night--C's boss gave her the day off and it seemed like everything would be ok.  Thursday was the day they had to go to the premarital lecture.  Let me just explain the process of marriage in Mexico.  They do it all through the government. Basically, they have to get together a bunch of paper work--birth certificates, ID, medical checkup, and a document saying they went to the premarital talks--and turn it in in the city hall.  Once they turn it in, they give them an appointment to come in and get married.  Simple enough, right? Well, Wednesday night after planning we got a call from C saying that they didn't have enough money for the premarital talk the next day.  The first thing I asked them was if they had paid they're tithing on Sunday.  They said that they did.  From then on I knew everything would be fine.  So we invited them to pray and ask God what they should do.  
Thursday:  They had to be at the lecture at 12:00 and at 8:30 we get a call saying they're still 100 pesos short and wanted us to ask the branch president if the church could help them out a little bit.  He said that the system hasn't been working lately and that they haven't been able to take any money out the last few weeks.  It was such a crazy morning.  We were calling them every few minutes to see what was happening and give them ideas about who could lend them 100 pesos.  At 11:30 they still hadn't found anyone to help them, so they went anyways hoping that they would let them pay later.  They got into the lecture, but they wouldn't give them the document they need until they had paid.  On top of that, they had to get their medical checkup done so that they could turn in all the papers before 3:00 when the civil records office closed, and after running all over C looking for a doctor, they finally found someone who would do it.  They ran over and turned in all the papers they had, hoping that they would give them an appointment to come in the next day to get married, even though they still didn't have the document from the premarital lecture.  Luckily and miraculously, they did and gave them an appointment for Friday at 9:00 to get married.  Whew.  So now it was just a question of getting a hold of the money they needed so that they could pick up that document in the morning before their wedding.  That night, they found a member who lent them the money they needed and we could finally sleep in peace.  
Other than all the craziness, we also found a ton of new investigators on Thursday, 7 to be exact, of whom will be made more particular mention a little later. 
Friday:  Well, we were asked to be witnesses to their wedding, so at 9:00 we went to the city hall, only to be told that we couldn't be their witnesses because we're not Mexicans.  Whatever, we stayed there with them for moral support.  They grabbed two random people in the building to be their witnesses, and then it turned out that we could have been after all, I guess the lady we asked must have been in a bad mood.  Or just made a mistake.  But whatever.  They finally got married and I could hardly believe it!  What a sigh of relief.  I know that it's because they fasted and payed their tithing--if it wasn't for that, who knows what would have happened.  That night they passed their baptismal interviews, along with E, and we had a cake to celebrate their marriage.  Such a miracle.  
Saturday morning we visited a family that we had found on Thursday--M, her daughter in law H, and her grandkids.  Basically they have a huge family and they all live right there close.  We taught them the Restoration and invited them to be baptized and S and L accepted without a problem.  So we invited them to the baptism and to church on Sunday and they both came!  We're going to work a little more with the adults in that family this week so that they all come to conference this weekend.  The girls loved the baptism and church, so that was sweet. 
This was easily the most memorable baptismal service of my life.  The entire branch came--everybody!  L gave the opening prayer, Elder C gave the first talk on baptism, then M gave one on the gift of the Holy Ghost and rocked it!  You never would have guessed that she only has 2 months in the church!  Then I did a musical number with A, the first counselor in the branch presidency, who also plays guitar and sings and writes and records his own music.  Basically we're best friends.  We sang a mix of "Abide with me" and that cheesy song we sang in the missionary activity in Guadalajara a few months ago (Te hallaré me querido amigo).  Everyone was crying.  Then came time for the baptisms.  A baptized C and V, and R was supposed to baptize E, but he didn't get home from work in time, so I had the privilege of baptizing her.  It was the happiest night of my life.  They were all so happy and all three bore their testimonies at the end.  They're going to be a big help in this branch.  I have been way too blessed!  I am so grateful for this chance I have had to serve the Lord and to meet this family.  I love them so much.  The mission is the best!

I love you all and we'll see you soon!  Have a happy conference weekend!

Elder Pew