I have a really wonderful problem. I have gotten
so many letters the last few weeks, I have had a hard time getting them
all answered. So, I'm working on individual responses to mis hermanos
and also to all of my wonderful friends who have written me. I'm closing
the gap, and seeing as I still have 4 hours left of P-Day, I'm hoping
I'll be able to get a lot done today as well. So, that being said, be
looking for letters, but I want to say CONGRATULATIONS ALAN FOR GETTING
INTO BYU!!!!! I was so excited to get that news. And also congrats on
your great musical weekend. Congrats to Cousins Matthew and Becca, can't
wait to see them in Provo, and to Hunter for his mission call.
I can't believe that my contemporaries are all getting back from their
missions. Roommate Lisa wrote me and said our first FHE brother is back
and she got to talk to him briefly on the phone. Ethan and Jarrett are
almost back, and I just can't believe it. Time flies. Actually, in the
MTC, we have a strange time warp phenomenon. Every day seems like a
million years. When I'm writing in my journal at night and I think back
to the morning, I always have to ask Hna. L was that this morning?'
Without fail. But at the same time, I feel like I've had P-Day two days
in a row. The days are long, but the weeks are fast. The weeks are long,
but the months are fast. This is all going to be over before I know it.
We passed our half way point in el CCM this week, and Texas is looking
bigger and bigger.
This week, I learned the importance of relying on the Spirit both
during lessons and during planning. We have two investigators right now,
Felipe and Antonio. At the beginning of the week, we had a lesson with
Felipe that did not go very well for various reasons, and we knew we had
to do better in our next one. The next day, we had a lesson with
Antonio that was an absolute disaster. Let me tell you about Antonio.
He's a grandpa whose family all got baptized, but he did not. He had
some bad experience with missionaries and with members and had decided
not to talk to them anymore or go to church. However, after we "chopped
some wood for him" he invited us over not to talk about the gospel, but
so he could say thank you. The objective of our first visit was to merit
a return invitation, which we did. However, when we left, we thought
about his problems and decided that what he needed was to learn about
forgiveness and be prepared to forgive the people who had wronged him so
he could get over his pride and returned to church. So, we prepared a
lesson about forgiveness for lesson two. About two minutes into our
second lesson, we realized we had made a dreadful mistake. We didn't
fully understand his problem, and forgiveness was not the thing to talk
about. We tried to change tack and follow the spirit, but we did an
abysmal job and ended up flinging all kind of stuff at him that only
made the situation worse. It was a disaster. Our intentions were good,
but we hadn't done the necessary ground work to support those good
intentions. We were kind of devastated and absolutely at a loss as to
what we should do. All weekend, we prayed about it and talked about it
and then carefully and prayerfully planned a lesson for Antonio. We
decided to walk in, ask him to explain to us his concerns about the
church, and then to ask him why it was that he had chosen to invite us
back after our first visit. In class, we had learned about using the
introduction of the Book of Mormon to teach investigators, and we
somehow felt that if we had time, we should teach that to him as well.
So this is what happened. We walked in. Said a prayer. Antonio told us
all of his questions about the church, which mostly center on the Book
of Mormon and the Word of Wisdom (coffee). Up to this point, I didn't
feel anything special about our lesson, but the Hna. L. asked him, 'so
why did you let us come back?' and suddenly the spirit entered the
room. Antonio thought about it and then told us that he hadn't been
baptized with his family because he still had some doubts about the BofM
that nobody had explained to him, and he hadn't been able to get an
answer. The missionaries and the members told him that he had to be
baptized first before he could get answers because he doesn't have the
Gift of the Holy Ghost. He said that a lot of members of the branch get
baptized and then never come back, and he said that if we was going to
make a covenant with God, he wanted to be sure about it because he is
going to keep that covenant until the day he dies. Golden! I just can't
believe the retarded, self-centered missionaries that taught him before
us. What was even more amazing, was that our lesson about the BofM ended
up being perfect. We testified to him that not only can he receive
answers for himself, but God wants him to receive answers for himself.
What other church can do that? It was really great. So the lesson we
learned from that is, yes you do have to be able to go by the Spirit in
your lessons, but that does not make up for listening to the Spirit
while you prepare.
We had a similar experience with Felipe. We decided that he also
needed to learn about the BoM, but while we were preparing for him, I
was prompted that we should do it in a different way. We told him about
what the BofM is, what it contains, and that in it, Christ appears to the
Nephites. We decided that we would read 3 Nephi 11 with him, which we
were really uncertain about, but it was just perfect! Even though our
lesson got interrupted and we only had half the time we had planned for,
the Spirit was there, and I think Felipe really felt the change. The
best thing, is that we decided we need to talk to him about Faith in
Christ in our next lesson and then about baptism. And guess what 3 Nephi
11 contains??? A whole bunch about Christ, and all of his explicit
teachings about baptism. We couldn't have logically planned this any
better than it's going to work out.
What I learned from all of this . . . "Naught but the Spirit's
divinest tuition will give us the wisdom to truly succeed." (By the way,
I was never one to be spiritually stabbed by music before, but somehow,
since I've been at the MTC, any time anybody sings anything, I
absolutely turn into a marshmallow. Some of my best inspiration has come
to me during musical moments.) We have to rely on the Spirit as
missionaries. Also, I was thinking about poor Antonio and how desperate
he must have felt to believe there was no way for him to get any
answers. All he wanted, was to know. And how many people are there just
like him on this planet. People need the gospel so badly, and I'm so
glad to be able to get it to him. Also, the BoM is an extremely powerful
tool in conversion. Not because it is better than the Bible, because
they are equally in that regard. The both contain the fullness of the
gospel, but the simplicity of the BoM and the way it constantly
testifies of Christ bring the spirit powerfully to the hearts of men.
Also this week, I've been thinking a lot about repentance because
Hna. L. and I are teaching district meeting this Sunday. When most of
us think 'repentance' we go straight to forgiveness of sins, which is an
important and amazing part of repentance. However, there is a much
broader definition of repentance than that. Repentance is also a process
of changing our ideas about God, ourselves, and the world to be in
harmony with the way God thinks. Repentance is just change. It is
becoming more like God, easy as that. So why is it that we always think
of repentance as being this awful struggle that we have to go through.
That's what Satan wants us to think. Repentance is beautiful! Repentance
is power. Can you imagine someone living in the slums of a third world
country, or a family struggling with relationship issues or whoever it
is with any kind of problem coming to know that they can be like God
some day? That's what repentance is, and it's so amazing. That's what I
get to talk to people about every day for the next 17.25 months. I have
the best job in the world . . . and in the eternities.
On a lighter note. This week, the other Hnas. in our district taught
Antonio as well and they needed his wife to be there, so I got to be
our teacher's wife for 45 minutes, and I have to say that it was pretty
darn awkward, haha. Hno.Y gets really into his role playing, so he
didn't even bat an eye, but he has this way of looking at people like he
is scanning your whole soul that kind of made me a little bit nervous
to play the part. Not to mention, there are a lot of rules about
male-female interactions for missionaries that seemed to be hanging more
heavily in the air than usual, haha. It was ok though. To stay true to
my role, and so that he would know why I was there with the other Hnas,
instead of knocking and waiting at the door of his "house," I just
knocked and walked in, announcing myself with "Hola mi amor! Encontre
las missioneras en la calle." And the rest was history. I realized
watching the other Hnas. struggling through their lesson how incredibly
blessed I have been with learning Spanish. They struggled to say every
single word, even though they work their tails off in class. The last
few days, Hna. L. and I have really been working on speaking Spanish
as much as possible, and it has been amazing how much we have learned.
When we're in lessons, I feel like I can say just about anything that I
might need to, one way or another. Also, this week during TRC, we taught
a native Chilena, and I understood almost every single word that came
out of her mouth, which gives me hope that I won't have such a dramatic
"this ain't the language the taught me in the MTC" moment when I get to
Texas. I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but it's
encouraging to feel help from beyond myself.
Elder M. Russell Ballard came to devotional this week. He talked
about a lot of stuff, but a few points that stood out to me . . .
The best missionaries understand what Christ did for them and turn
their 18 months over to the Savior and rely on his Atonement for
2. Heavenly Father trusts us to be his representatives. Afterward,
President Blackham told us he really believes that true because we have
been given Preach My Gospel to teach with instead of memorized lessons
which gives us much more potential, but also a lot more room for error.
3. He blessed us that our love for Heavenly Father would be
accelerated, and that through morning and nightly prayer, we will be
reassured that Heavenly Father is mindful of us.
Really quickly before I give the computer over to some poor missionary missing their family . . .
I love you all. I've taken way to much time on the computer, but I'm
going to try to attach some pictures anyway. Thank you all for your
letters. The church is true, the gospel of Jesus Christ is amazing!