Monday, July 8, 2013

Tucuman - July 8th

Hey family!
Wow! This week was really great! We had a really cool zone conference and the whole mentality of the mission has kinda changed.
First off, we discovered yet another part of our area. Wow! It's like the states. There are no drunks and the streets are paved. The houses are nice and there are kids playing in the streets with their parents. It was really weird to enter into that different world. It's part of a really huge city that'll probably be it's own area once the missionaries get here finally.
So something that I don't think I said two weeks ago: Camila, the five year old girl with cancer to whom we gave a blessing, passed away due to the cancer. Her family was in a pretty bad way. This week we visited her dad, and were able to share a bit about the plan of salvation. They kept asking, "If she was so pure and innocent, and guaranteed to live with God, why did she have to suffer so much?" I felt like we needed to share the talk from Elder Bowen from October. David, Camila's dad, was in tears. It was so perfect. I'm so grateful for modern day prophets and for all those that they call. It was such a neat experience, and I know that through this, they're developing more faith in Christ, and really coming closer as a family.
A member gave us a reference a while ago. Really annoying kid. Don't know if I've said anything about him, but the first few lessons, he refused to read, pray, and kept asking "why, why why." Grr. Well, he's changed. A lot. Now he reads, says prayers, goes to church happily, and has a baptismal date for this Saturday!
We also found a former investigator! His name is Carlos. I would have sworn that he was a convert - he had a triple, a Book of Mormon, and a few other church materials, including a half-filled-out Duty to God. He just couldn't kick the cigarettes. But that's going to change! He came to church all by himself Sunday!
Something really cool happened. We had a really rough family go to church a week ago. This week we were dealing with all the reactions from the members. The majority were really scared. "I know that everyone needs the gospel, just be careful. This chapel's never been robbed and I don't want to change that." Then we found one sister that said "Hey, I've got some old church clothes that don't fit my son, and I want that family to have them!" What a difference! It was really cool! I don't blame the other members for making that kind of judgment, because they're not completely unjustifed, but how much better is the reaction of that sister!
So the conference talked a lot about the different ages of missionary work. In the beginning, it was all missionaries. Around '85, it changed to being working with the members. Now, it's no longer missionary work. It's the work of salvation. It's the responsibility of the members, who have the full time missionaries at their disposal to help them. We as missionaries now have the responsibility to help the members do their own work, and teach those with whom they work. I really love the quote from Elder Anderson in the last conference, where he really emphasized that the members need to pray to know with whom they can share the gospel. I realized that many times when those "names and faces" come to the mind, for the members here it's usually been "Hey, my old neighbor lives here now! I haven't talked to him in a long time" or "My best friend used to live here. I don't know if she still does." We've found some great people like that. Prayer is the best.
It also struck me this week that we have to make time for God. It's really struck me what 3 Nephi 13:33 says - to put first the kingdom of God. There's a lot of members that say "I don't have time. Come back on a weekend." I've really seen that the members who take 15-45 minutes out of their day to help out in the kingdom are much more blessed and happy than those who leave the work for when they think that they have some extra time.
Anyway, one last thing. I went on divisions with our ward mission leader yesterday! We visited a ton of less actives and I got to give a blessing. The power of the priesthood really is apparent in the ordinances. I didn't really know what I was going to say, and I said a few things that I wasn't really expecting. What really surprised me was when people started talking about it after, because a few of the things they mentioned I don't really remember saying at all. Priesthood power is real, and is such a great gift.
Well, Elder Ortega sends his greetings. Have a great week!


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