Family! Thanks so much for writing me. You're the best!
Dad! That's nuts about your hand. I but that hurt a lot. Did you manage to get a picture with the nail in your knuckle? That's awesome about that stake conference. When are they going to finish with the Calgary temple? Keep me updated! Have you been to the temple grounds recently? That's cool that you sang in the choir, I'd like to see you in it when I get back! Who did you have to fire? That's brutal that it was her birthday!!! At least you said a prayer and tried to do the best you could, but that's still sad for her. Hopefully she's alright! That's so awesome that Carlos and Lizette are getting sealed!! Congratulate them for me. That's so exciting. Hopefully your hand starts to feel better, and thanks for your prayers! Love ya! Oh and by the way, I took out another $40ish bucks because I had no cash. I had used it all to buy our reimbursable stuff like to pay for electricity, water, and gas, and we didn't have enough to survive. Sorry!!
Mum! How was the hike by the way? Ya it's so awesome that we found this family! They're so awesome. We found some good investigators, but nobody went to church and has been progressing a lot, although a lot of them seem to have good desires. We don't do a lot of cooking cause we don't have a lot of time. We make breakfast in the morning and something small before going to bed, and make food on Mondays if we don't buy something. It's tough, cause we have so little time to cook. The most we cook is eggs hahaha. My companion has made some cool stuff though, like guacamole, and some cool rice thing. I liked that talk from Elder Holland. I'd never heard that before. It's true what he said - we can't stop teaching the ideal because if we do, people will begin to think it's acceptable to settle for anything less. Obviously we all have different situations, but the ideal should always be the goal, and we shouldn't water down the doctrine. That's cool about your activity. How's the food storage looking? That's cool about talking with that Kevin guy. I love how clearly the doctrine is in the church, thanks to the fact that we have an additional book of scripture, and living prophets. Thanks so much Mum! Love you!
Michael! The wife doesn't have to get rebaptized as far as I know, but thanks for the reminder. I'm gonna get the Branch President to check the records to see if she's there. A lot of people in Chile were baptized but the records were lost, so there's a small possibility that she could maybe get baptized again. That's a really good question! How to teach with the Spirit. I guess that's the battle of a mission! Learning how to study, plan, find, and teach with the Spirit. I'm no expert, cause I'm still learning how to recognize and follow the Spirit more effectively, but in my teaching, I've seen a big difference between a strong spiritual lesson, and a conversation with a bunch of fancy words. Chapter 4 teaches about the Spirit in PMG and Chapter 10 teaches how to teach more effectively. I think the best thing that I've seen, is just trying to teach the person, and not just cover all the points of a lesson. Spewing out doctrine doesn't convert anyone, and isn't effective. We have to present the message clearly, using the scriptures and explaining it simply while not overdoing it or complicating it, and apply it specifically to the needs or desires of each particular person. Also, bear a solid and sincere testimony while remembering in your heart your personal experiences and feelings about your testimony. I feel like that, combined with solid and effective prayer and study, with focused and spiritual thoughts allow us to teach with the Spìrit. You're gonna rock exams dude, don't even worry about it. What did you guys do in the mall that was so funny? Nice work on joining the choir dude! Grad is this week? It's gonna be so fun. I loved my grad it was soooo fun! I was dead tired afterwards though. You guys have a live band? What's the band? You rock Michael. Love you man.
Charly! That's awesome you have another dance coming up. You gotta let me know how it goes!! And tell me the names of all the guys you danced with and what you think of em. Hahaha. Nice job with your Personal Progress!! Do your braces hurt your teeth or scratch the inside of your mouth up? That happened to me sometimes I remember. Have an awesome week Char! Love ya!
Jake! Hopefully you get good marks on that exam! I'm sure you did though so don't even worry about it. Hahaha that's so funny you did nikki nikki nine door. I remember doing fun stuff like that. We did a whole bunch of stupid pranks to friends at BYU too. So much fun.*
So anyway, this week was pretty awesome! Cambios today, and I'm staying in Coelemu, for which I'm super happy. There were a lot of crazy changes though! The zone leader, Elder Wixom, who has been here for only one cambio, is out of here! He's going to a branch to implement the new branch building program the mission is doing. They merged the Tomé zone with the Penco zone and now we're just Penco. They had only just divided the two zones about 3 cambios ago, and I don't know why they merged them again. Weird!
A funny and kind of terrible story this week, is that since we had been using electric heaters so much (we can see our breath in our house at night, and there's no other heating, and for 2 weeks straight my comp couldn't sleep without having them on all night), we got a huge power bill. We split the bill normally in half with the owner who lives in another house behind us on the same plot. It arrived as 105 thousand pesos, which is about $215. It was nuts, compared to last month which was 44 thousand pesos. The owner said the most he's ever paid alone is 30 thousand pesos, and agreed to pay that much, leaving us with 75 thousand pesos. I almost wet myself. I was worried to call the mission office, thinking they were going to eat me alive, but luckily, they were really nice to us and didn't even get mad!! Hahaha. We've decided to cut down extra on electricity next month, just bundling up instead of using heaters, as part of our repentence process.
The Parra Rivas family is doing good, but they're unsure about their baptisms. They understand that it's a really big commitment with the Lord, and aren't completely sure. It's a very normal thing to say though, so we aren't too worried. They went to church again except the 14-year-old didn't either this week. They each wrote down a commitment to read and pray everyday, and signed their commitment. We asked them all how they have felt while they've been sharing with us and going to church, and they have all felt great. The mother, Norma, who was inactive, is so happy as she's feeling the Spirit and undergoing a conversion that she didn't really experience too much before, and she's so happy that her family is more unified and goes to church together. That father, David, has his insecurities, but he likes going to church and has felt the Spirit. Nicolás, who's 16, and who's also a little insecure, has also felt the Spirit and says he believes the Book of Mormon to be true. The 14 year old David is good too, but goes to his grandma's on weekends and doesn't go to church. Last night we taught them the Word of Wisdom, and they accepted, and then we took their coffee away from them and flushed it down the toilet at home hahaha. Pray for them please!!
On Tuesday night, the Branch President's father, who was really sick in the hospital, and was 97 years old, died. I was happy to hear that a bunch of people from the ward went to a ceremony they had the next night. On Thursday morning, they had a Mass at the Catholic church (since the Branch President's dad was Catholic), and the burial. The Branch President asked us to accompany him so we did, as did the Stake Presidency. It was really interesting to see a Catholic Mass. It was almost all memorized with the congregation reciting prayers and creeds and it was quite different. Up in front there was a crucifix hanging from the ceiling, with a statue of Jesus with some flaming heart on his chest that they seem to always put there, and a statue of the "virgin" Mary with a crown on her head and baby Jesus with a crown on his head. I understand now why a lot of people feel so great when they come to our church. It's more reverent, and in my opnion, a lot more sincere. Also, it's void of apostasy. Everyone was looking at us weird when we were there though haha. The priest even made some snarky comment to my companion cause he shook his hand with gloves on, and apparently in Chile, only women do that haha. Afterwards, we went to the burial. The Branch President conducted it, and bore a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and of the hope of eternal life that He gives. He also acknowledged the presence of the Stake Presidency and two young missionaries. It was really good and bold of him, considering there were over 100 people from other faiths around us. Then, the Stake President dedicated the grave.
On Saturday, we had a big rainstorm with a ton of wind. The lights cut out in the morning, and we had no power the whole day. We went to Ranguelmo, and at night, couldn't see a thing, and almost got lost trying to find our way out hahaha. We entered a house of a really Evangelical guy, who was shouting as we prayed which is typical, and who claimed to have the Priesthood and that the God baptized him with the Spirit when he was 8 years old. It was basically just a bunch of apostasy. We taught a bold lesson about the Restoration, trying to maintain control cause he would go on crazy tangents, standing up and shouting. It was quite sad though, because he was someone who claimed so much faith and to have worked miracles through the Spirit, but was prideful in his so-called faith and we saw that with his lips he honored God, but his heart was far from Him. He seemed to silently mock us a little as we didn't know the answer to a very specific question of one of thousands of Bible stories, and as I made the comment, "We don't convince anyone", trying to emphasize the importance of the Holy Ghost that does the convincing. In the end, however, we blew him a little out of his shoes by saying that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the only church upon the face of the earth with the power and authority to baptize with validity, and left him with a Book of Mormon. Hopefully he repents.
Last Sunday, we gave a blessing to Anthuan, the son of Ana Muñoz my convert. Her husband is a member that's been less active for years, as are all the members of his family. Anthuan was sick, and we gave him a blessing. Yesterday as we went to visit and ended up helping the cut wood to heat the house, we found out that Anthuan had recovered in one day from a sickness that apparently can take out an adult for an entire week. Ana Muñoz's husband, Miguel, was shocked because he didn't really believe in any of that stuff. Ana had had some problems the night before as her family was drinking, and couldn't sleep all night. It seems like every since she's been meeting with the missionaries, the topic of conversation of her husband and his family and friends while they are drinking is us. I don't know why. It started off that everyone was against her joining the church, except her husband who was neutral. Then, as we've been over there so much and tried to gain confidence of the family (all of them live right there), Miguel's parents and brother now support her. It appears that on Saturday night, as they were drinking, we somehow entered into the conversation, and Miguel brought up the fact that we had given a blessing and healed Anthuan. His parents told him that no matter what anyone tells him, that he never stops believing in the church. I had no idea he felt that way! Beforehand, he always avoided sharing lessons with us, and constantly rejected the invitation to go to church. Yesterday when we invited him, he said that he wants to go soon, which was a huge step for him. Ana, who's been struggling with being steady in some things, has had me quite worried. She did a huge turn around in her life and is trying to change. I was worried as she discussed some challenges she had, but then she told us how she basically said, "Maybe I'll keep falling as I keep trying to continue in the church, but I'm never going to take a step back. One day, maybe even in as much 10 years, I'll be able to read and pray everyday and go to church every week without problems, and that's what I'm headed for, constantly repenting." She didn't say those words, but said something like that. It made me so happy, that in spite of all her difficulties in being a model mormon, she has that goal in mind.
It was a pretty awesome week this week! The Lord is blessing us. We're working harder, and my testimony is growing. I know He's there. I love learning more about Him, and I know this is His work. He's here with us, and is working miracles.
I love you all! Keep praying for me! I'll keep praying for you!