Well it's been crazy this week! I'm writing today on Tuesday because yesterday we didn't get to Isla till 8 and so I got permission to do normal P-day stuff today before lunch. Why was I not in Isla, you say? Because I recieved a new assignment, the one I've always wanted :) I'M A TRAINER!!! Hahahaha I'm super excited. Trainers are the missionaries that "train" the brand new ones. Training is a period of 12 weeks right after the new missionary arrives in the field from the MTC. Trainers are kinda important because they, in a certain sense, define the mission of the missionaries that they train. So it's equally the most important, and hardest, calling that there is out here. I'm a little bit nervous but that's okay. Haha haven't slept much in days because Elder Ortiz, my last comp, left early on Saturday, so I was in a trio with the other elders, and then after that I had to go all the way to Tuxtapec on Sunday (President Cordova sent me by myself, which felt really weird.) Then I got up super early Monday to go to the port (Veracruz City) to pick up my new comp! His name is Elder Segovia. He's from Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico. I'll have to send pics next week. Anyways I'm super stoked, and super motivated to work hard and do a good job, because by the time he's done with his training, I'll have 20 months!!!! i just wish there was more time out here!!!! It would be great if the mission was like, 2 and a half years or something.
I really really do know that this is the work of God. There's nothing better than making people happy. I love this work, I love these people, and I really don't want my time here to end.
Well, I don't have a lot of time so I'll have to be brief. I think the highlight of my week was definitely going to San Andreas Tuxtlas this weekend for the distict conference. I got to see a lot of members from Baxcaxbaltepec, my first area! That was awesome. I found out that the family that I baptized there, my first converts here in the mission, are still active!!! That made me super happy, as I had not had the chance to see them for some time.
Other than that, it rained again all week, and one of the elders in my district, Elder Dawson, got really sick and had to go to the port (Veracruz) to get some tests done. He's fine now, back and working and good as new. But we're alll getting sick a lot here. I'm kinda sick of getting sick. I'd rather just be healthy all the time. But whatever. Other than that, life is wonderful.
My comp is really cool. But he finishes right now in November. Then he'll go back to Ecuador. Before the mission, he was on the Ecuadorian Taekwondo national team. You could say he likes to kick things.
I'm a workahollic these days. It's actually fun when you work your guts out. That's all I have time for this week, Sorry! I'll write more next week.
This is the baptism of Claudia, Melina, and Patricia is the mom, Claudia the taller one, Melina the shorter.
Wow what a week! We worked really hard this week, and finally broke through and made it to 40 lessons this week (we need to be having closer to 45), so that's progress! Also we had the awesome opportunity to find 12 new people to teach this week! C. got baptized, so that family is now united as church members (the ones that are willing to listen at least.) I also got a much needed haircut.
What I really want to talk about is an experience I had with one of the families that we found this week, and the whole situation just testifies to me of the truth of the work that we are doing.
One night last week we were doing divisions (when 2 missionaries separate and go with 2 members in order to get more work done). I went with one of the young men. On our way to an appointment, I felt like we should contact a particular random house. As I started to shout "Buenas Noches" (in Mexico you kinda shout / knock to get the people to come out), the young man tells me "No, not this house, I know how the man is, we don't want to deal with him," but it was too late. A woman came outside. I presented us and told her that we were sharing a message about families and asked if we could come in. The woman let us in and called her kids and made them all sit down. I got to meet her several children. The mother, just so you know, appeared to be about 30ish. (In Mexico it's normal for girls to have a child at 15, 16 or earlier, so that wouldn't be unusual).
We start talking and then I see an old man who appears to be about 60 or 65 walk out of one room and into the next. I ask "Who's he?" and the mother chokingly says, "That's my husband". "OK," I'm thinking, "this isn't so normal anymore." Normal here is that he's 10 years older than she is, not twice her age. Before this point I could tell that something was bothering her. I knew that was why she had let us in. A few minutes later I felt prompted to be very direct. I told her I knew she was searching for something. She looked startled and surprised. I bore my testimony to her, especially that she was a daughter of God and that He loved her. She just broke down and cried, and the Spirit was super strong. It was a moment of pure reverence.
She told me that she wasn't baptized in any church, but she did believe in God. We invited her and her kids to come to church the next day and they accepted. I was still puzzled by the whole situation. When we got to church, I learned that one of the sisters there knew this woman. After she left, that sister told me that this woman's much older husband bought her when she was a little girl. Then when she got older, he came and took her and made her be his wife.
Well that put everything in perspective.
I don't know what's going to happen to this family, but I know that this mother is a precious daughter of God, to whom He has entrusted precious children, and that He has specific missions and purposes in this life for every one of them. I feel honored to help them know that. I really do know that the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can help them find happiness, in the hope of blessings not always received in this life, but promised in the next. I appreciate all prayers to help them.
This week was really cool. There were 2 investigators that we had the opportunity of baptizing last week! They're P, and M. M is the daughter of P. C, P's other daughter, is going to get baptized this week!
It was really cool to watch them progress towards baptism. At first they were just kinda listening for fun, but after a week we decided to leave them the challenge to read one chapter of the Book of Mormon a day, starting from the beginning. Needless to say, they weren't perfect, but they've done pretty good, and it's gotten to the point where they love to read it so much that they try to read as much as they can every day! M is already almost done with 1 Nephi, which is the first book in the Book of Mormon! Actually they're all almost done with it.
Once they started reading, P herself said "I think I'm ready for baptism. I'd like to get baptized. Do you guys think I'm ready?" Well, whenever someone has the desire, that practically makes them ready by themselves! We didn't have to do anything more. It's really cool to see how God works through the Book of Mormon to change lives. It's a true book and when we read it the Holy Ghost testifies of its truth to us. We come to "delight in its words" and that is followed by a change of heart.
I got to give the baptismal interview for an investigator from the other missionaries here in my district. That was really cool too because I got to learn her story. Her name is C (not same person as the first C in this report) and she can't read. (So she can't read the Book of Mormon by herself.) She is married and has one son who's 13. He and his dad got baptized a few months ago, but she never wanted anything to do with the missionaries. Then she started to see the change in her son. He stopped walking around in the street (a bad idea here in Mexico for personal safety and if you want to be a good person). He came to have a new light in his eyes. She received the answer to her prayers to know if this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and she was also super excited to be baptized!
I'm super glad and grateful to be serving the Lord here in this mission, and there's no place I'd rather be. I love these people so much, I really do, and my purpose is to help them be happier. What more could I ask?
First off, sorry for not answering a lot of the emails. Internet is really slow right now and I'm super busy.
Second off, things are going great here in Isla. I love the area, the people, my companion, and my district, they're all great. This weekend we'll be having a baptism. She was someone that they were already teaching when I got here. We decided to leave her the commitment to read the Book of Mormon every day, one chapter a day, and this Sunday she informed us that she wants to be baptized this Friday. :) The Book of Mormon is true.
Now, I'd like to share a more serious story with you all. One that has deeply impacted me and made me so grateful to be here and to be a missionary. Elder Stanfield shared this update about this family with me this week by email. I'll share with you guys from the beginning. Be it known that this is a testament of the truth of this work, and of The Book of Mormon.
When I was with Elder Chamberlain about 3 months ago, one Sunday night all our plans fell through. So we just went out to the street corner near our house and started talking to all the people that passed by. As we were finishing, we saw a relatively older couple (in their early 60's) walking toward us. Elder Chamberlain felt impressed to contact them. They cordially invited us to come into their home that Tuesday and share with them our message on the family. We later found out that they were from Juarez, a city on the border of Mexico and the states. They had had a ton of contact with this church, but never had felt interested in talking to us. They started to progress from the first visit. They started reading the Book of Mormon every day.
We learned that the husband had had a stroke a few years ago and now had health problems. He never liked talking about religion with people. But when we first contacted him, he said that he felt pure peace and knew that he was supposed to listen to us. About 3 weeks later, their car broke down. Because of some weird complications, they had to go to Juarez to fix it, which is super far away. Elder Chamberlain left, and Elder Stanfield came, right before they left. Elder Stanfield got to meet with them once, I think, before they left for Juarez. Because of complications, they had to stay in Juarez for about 4-5 weeks. I called them regularly to see how they were. They ascertained that they were reading the Book of Mormon every day and had plenty of questions and were super excited to come back. Before they left for Juarez we had put a goal with them to be baptized on the 26th of September.
On the way back home, the husband got sick again and had to go to the hospital in Guadalajara. I called while he was there. They were planning on coming back the next week. (The week I came here to Isla). Then he died of a heart attack. He read the Book of Mormon faithfully until the end of his life. The last 2 chapters he read before he died were Alma 40 and 41. Anyone familiar with the Book of Mormon will know why this is significant. In these 2 chapters, the prophet Alma explains to his son what happens after this life, but before the resurrection, a time period that is known doctrinally in this church as the spirit world. Alma talks about what happens in the spirit world and how the resurrection will later be brought about by the power of Christ. Then he proceeds to talk about the restoration of all things after the resurrection, of how those who have done evil will have evil rewarded them, and those who have done good will have good rewarded them. He talks about why wickedness never was happiness (and how and why we repent and prepare to meet God).
These chapters are the perfect preparation for someone about to die. God prepared this man to know what was about to happen, and then permited him to pass on. He died on the 28th. He had been anxiously awaiting the date of his baptism on the 26th, before he went to the hospital. He was never able to leave the hospital again before he died. His wife has since returned home, and is preparing to be baptized. Their whole family is interested in hearing the message of the restored gospel. Part of that message is that we can be baptized vicariously in the holy temple of God for our loved ones who have died without having a chance to be baptized. If they accept that baptism in the spirit world, it will be the same as if they had been baptized during mortality.
I know that this is the work of God, I really do. Experiences like this just strengthen my faith in it. I'm so glad that I'm here on the mission. There's nothing better that I could be doing with my life right now. There's no better reward than the reward of being happy, like I am in this work. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father, that he knows us all personally, and that we all knew him personally before this life. He raised us, loved us, and sent us here so we could become like Him. Do what it takes to fulfill that purpose.