Friday, May 30, 2014

May 19th & 26th, 2014

May 19th, 2014

If I explained all the happened this week, it would take a whole other week.  But we'll go with the highlights.  

I think I mentioned in the skype session that an American member on vacation here showed up to church on Sunday asking us what he could do to help.  So we handed him the branch missionary calendar and he signed up to come with us Monday night.  He was with us from 6:00-9:00.  This was great because:

1.  He had a rental car and he drove us all over the place in it.  We made it to all the lessons on time and didn't have to be in the sun. 
2.  He is one of the most loving, friendly, spiritual people I have met in my life.  

Our first lesson with him was with R and J.  Before the opening prayer, J started saying that he didn't want to keep going--that there has been too much opposition and he feels like it isn't worth it.  And it´s true, there has been a lot of opposition.  All kinds of people have come to tell R that she's wrong for leaving her old church and to make sure they're disapproval is understood.  All the opposition led to her getting sick last week, and she couldn't come to church because she was feeling so bad.  So J had decided he had had enough.  We said a prayer and explained to them that OBVIOUSLY there will be opposition because it's the TRUTH!  Satan can't be divided against himself (Matthew 12:25).  We did the best we could to help her make the decision to keep going and she decided to do so!  And that really was the only battle to win, because if she's going to keep going, there's still going to be opposition anyways, so J might as well keep going as well.  And he has.  They both came to church this week and are doing a lot better, which is an absolute miracle. 

Tuesday:  We had zone class.  Man is the mission going through a lot of changes.  They talked about all we need to change to be able to acheive what the area presidency wants us to acheive.  Basically what I got from it was that we need to recognize that we can't baptize every week, find 20 new investigators every week, or teach 40-60 lessons every week, but Christ can.  We all need to be more humble and recognize our dependance on Him now more than ever.

After we got back, all our lessons fell through, and none of our backup plans worked out either.  This always means SOMEONE else needs are help.  I had no idea what to do, but I felt like we should walk down to the end of the street.  Why?  I didn't know why, until about 20 seconds later when we saw V sitting there on the corner.  So we stopped to talk to him and found out that he and C had had problems the night before and that she had left the house with her kids and gone to stay with her mom.  So we decided to go visit her at her mom's house, knowing now that that was where the Lord wanted us to be.  We had a nice conversation with C and she said that she knew she needed to go back with V.  He showed up at the end of the lesson so we decided to leave to let them sort things out.  On our way to the next lesson, we saw our branch President and his wife walking up the street.  We asked them where they were going and they said they were going to visit M!  So we told them that was great since C and V were there and needed help.  Amazing how God not only inspired us, but also the Branch President, to be where we needed to be to help that family.  They're fine now, and I'll go into more details about that later.  

Wednesday was zone conference.  I can't possibly describe the hundredth part of all we learned there, but it was absolutely amazing.  They talked about "killing the zero," in other words, having at least one of each key indicator (lessons with a member present, referrals received, referrals contacted, new investigators, lesson with a less active or recent convert) every day.  From that day on we've been able to do it (except one day).  President Wagner taught us about the Book of Mormon.  He said "tell me all the evidence your investigators give that the Book of Mormon isn't true" and then one by one went destroying all the theories that we hear every day!  It was so awesome.  He talked about the three witnesses, (which are enough witnesses to win any court case) who saw the plates, heard the voice of Christ declare that they had been translated by His power, and saw the angel Moroni who commanded them to bear testimony of the work.  And ALL THREE witnesses were excommunicated and turned against the church and even still never denied their testimonies.  Not to mention 8 other witnesses who saw the plates, Joseph and Hyrum Smith who sealed their testimony with their lives, and the personal testimony we can all receive by reading the Book of Mormon, applying the principles it teaches, and asking God if its true.  That's evidence!

We got back here all fired up, and we killed the zero in three hours.  We went to visit R and J again, and C and V came with us to the lesson.  What was our surprise when we found out that those two had visited R and J on Sunday afternoon after noticing that they hadn't gone to church.  Nobody told them to do it, they just went.  And after hearing about all the strugglings they were having to get married, they offered to help.  Basically the problem is that J's birth certificate is registered in Michoacán, which is another state and it´s a lot harder and takes a lot longer to get it here.  But V has a brother that lives in Michoacán, so he wrote down J's information and sent it to his brother so that he could get the birth certificate and send it to them, making it so that they can get married a lot faster.  I could go on for about an hour about this, but it truly was amazing to me to see this happening.  It's only fitting that C and V, after going through so much to get married and get baptized, be the ones that help R and J.  It´s because of that that they feel such a strong desire to help them.  And it's just amazing to me that two recent converts would go visit a family of investigators without the missionaries and without being told to do so, when in most of my areas even the ward leaders wouldn't go visit the investigators with OR without us even if we told them to!  But the reason they did is because the members here visited THEM when THEY were investigators, and so they have understood now that THAT IS WHAT WE DO in this church!  One good example can have such an amazing effect on the world.  

Thursday was a historic day in my mission.  We taught 7 lessons, contacted 8 referrals, received 5 more, and found 3 new investigators.  One of the new investigators was P, who's dad is A, a less active member that we didn't know until Wednesday when we contacted him in the street and he told us he was a member.  He's an older man that hasn't been here for a whole lot of time, but he's been a member for 2 years and really wants to come back to the church.  And he has a lot of daughters and granddaughters that aren't members.  They didn't make it to church this week, but we're going to keep working with them.  

Friday morning the branch president's wife came with us to the lessons, but they all fell through.  So she took us with one of her friends, C, who we taught the first lesson and invited to be baptized on July 5th.  We're going to try to visit her husband this week so that we can teach them together.  Her dad died 2 years ago and she just found out she won't be able to have kids, so she's got a lot of needs and is ready to receive the gospel.  

After that, we had a lesson with a young couple we contacted in the street the day before.  Their names are M and A.  It was a great lesson--M got super excited when we taught about the Book of Mormon because he had always wondered why the Bible didn't talk about the american continent.  And he accepted a baptismal date for July 5th super easily.  We're going to go visit them in a few minutes.  

Skip to Sunday, running out of time!  Sunday was the third week in a row we had 63 people in church, which is the record for all my time here!  There were no seats left.  Also, the G family came again.  Bro G looked so happy all day and in Elders quorum he said he's made the decision to come back to church.  J and R and J made it and they were great meetings.  Also, we're teaching a mission prep class for the youth who are leaving on their missions soon, and we started yesterday!  It was great!  And I heard rumors that C and V are going to go to the temple this week!  Life is great!

Have a great week everyone!  Love you!

Elder Pew

Not sure what Elder Pew is doing but it was something funny during a Zone Conference.
May 26th, 2014

This week's subject line (4) brought to you by the number of missionaries there will be in C next transfer.  We got the call Sunday morning before church. In two weeks there will be a pair of sister missionaries here to open C 2.  We have to find a house for them to live this week and have everything ready with furniture, meal schedule, and a division of the area.  It's been cool to see how the Lord has been preparing this area to receive another pair of missionaries.  SO many less actives have come back into activity, not to mention the two new convert families that are super strong.  They'll be ready.  So this will be the second time they send 3 more missionaries to be my replacement in an area.

It's really, really hot here.  This morning it started raining and we were super excited but by about 10:30 it stopped and the sun came out again.  And all that rain made it even more humid.  Yuck.

In other news, all my pants have a hole in them in some place or another, most of which are of considerable size.  And I can't find my sewing kit.  I'm kind of in super survivor mode.  

More Ensign stories.  I just haven't been able to keep up with all the excitement that's going on around here.  Week by week isn't really the way to tell all these stories.

G family:  I've mentioned this family before but I'll give the full story now.  Bro. G had a lot of difficult challenges. He stopped going to church and his family went inactive with him.  He had a lot of anger built up inside for a long time.  And that's how we found him.  His wife had started to want to come back to come to church, but he still resisted.  We tried teaching him when Elder M was here, but he usually left his wife and kids with us and went into another room, or sat there to listen but wouldn't participate.  The Sunday School President even left sacrament meeting one Sunday to pull him out of his house and take him to church, but after two or three Sundays he said he didn't feel comfortable in church and that he didn't want anyone pressing on his agency.  So he went inactive again.  His wife stopped receiving us for fear that he would say something rude or embarrass her.  So we left him alone for a while.  A few weeks ago, we started to visit him again.  We just made it really clear that we only wanted to help him, that we understood that he already knew the doctrine and knew what was right, and that it was up to him to come back to church or not.  He started receiving us a little better and we taught him and his wife the restoration and invited them to come to church.  He said "If I feel like it, I'll come." That Sunday, his daughters wanted to go to church, so he took them and when he got to the church, he felt like he actually wanted to be there.  So he came in and stayed all three hours!  The next week he came again, and one of the district leaders that he had so much resentment for was there.  I thought "Oh, no!  He's going to walk out and never come back!"  But he didn't.  He stayed all three hours again, and two weeks later he still hasn't missed a Sunday in church.  I wish you could have seen what he looked like before and what he looks like now.  He is a changed man.  We had a lesson with them yesterday and I could not believe what was happening.  The Atonement changes people and can heal any scars from the past.  

P family:  Brother P is a returned missionary, he has 3 kids: S , B , and S.  His wife has about 3 years in the church, and he has been inactive for who knows how long.  His kids came every week without fail, with or without their mom.  They are really some of the greatest kids I've ever met in my life.  Special spirits.  One night we went and taught them about eternal families and invited them to prepare to be sealed as a family.  They said they would think about it.  The next Sunday in branch counsel President Q told us that the P family had the goal to get sealed in May.  From that Sunday on, the whole family has come to church every week.  And not just to church, but in every activity, in institute, and in our mission prep class, they're the first ones there.  Saturday they were sealed in the temple as a family.  Brother P is serving as branch secretary, and it's been amazing to see the change that has come over them.  

S family:  Brother Suarez is our ward mission leader and works in the military base.  After a few months, he stopped working with us with the same excitement that he had before.  Sister S was young women's president, but they released her and weeks later they went inactive, in part because of financial problems.  Lots of members went to visit them and they still weren't able to make it.  Because they live in M, we weren't able to visit them much, but after about 2 months of not seeing them we were able to find them and teach them.  Brother S apologized for what had happened and they said that they would be able to start coming to church.  Now not only are they active again, but Brother S has been coming to C (they live about 40 minutes away in M) to help us out with the lessons to fulfill his calling, and his family has been blessed for it.

Now to keep up with the R and J saga.  This week there has been more opposition and they've been rethinking getting married.  I've seen that one before.  It's the same tool Satan always uses to keep people from getting married.  For some little argument they start questioning that they're marriage will really work and they lose the desire to get married, but they really do love each other so they don't want to get separated, so they just end up staying together in sin until they die.  That's his plan.  God's plan is not to procrastinate the day of your repentance.  So we had a powerful lesson with them about that yesterday and invited them to pray to know what they should do, even though I feel like I already know the answer.  R has said countless times that meeting J was an answer to her prayers, and if that's true, that's probably why I can't get this scripture out of my mind: "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matthew 19:6)  

We found a cool new family this week.  It's a single mom named M.  She has 3 kids, 2 girls ages 14 and 12 and a 9 year old boy named E.  She just got separated from her husband, he lives in C right now and they're going through rough times.  We found them looking for another investigator who wasn't home.  They were sitting outside her dad's house and we talked to them and taught a mini lesson and said a prayer with them right there.  We went back the next day and M said that she had felt better ever since the prayer we said.  Her mom was there and told us she had dreamed us the night before, dressed in white in a paradise-type place.  Awesome!  M and E went to church on Sunday and we're really excited to keep teaching them.  They accepted a baptismal date for July 12th.  

Have a great last week of school!  Our branch president is having another operation this week--extra prayers for him and for my companion, who's having kind of a rough time lately.  Thanks for everything!  This gospel is true!   Love you!

Elder Pew