Monday, May 12, 2014

Santiago, May 4, 2014

Hello Family!
So I kinda already mentioned that I'm here in Santiago now. What I didn't say is that I was assigned as a zone leader down here. My companion is Elder Sandoval from Cordoba. It'll be a fun transfer! It was a really long bus ride... plus a three hour delay because there was some kind of a problem with our engine and they had to change buses. The fun part is that I'll get to make that trip every month to go to Salta for Leader's council! Oh! And Elder Parada is my new district leader. I've been with him in every province I've been in. Kinda funny.
So I think I've mentioned Jesica before. She was our only investigator that was really making any real progress. The only issue was the law of chastity. We talked about it almost every time, but she and her boyfriend didn't seem too hot on getting married and when we mentioned separation, they didn't really seem too hot on that either. Finally, on Wednesday we passed by and asked. It was kinda a slow day. We asked Jesica if she'd decided and she said yes. She wants to get married! Thursday and Friday were holidays (Labor day and we-want-a-long-weekend day), so I never got to go to the city offices to see when they could get married, but it was such a joy! From Wednesday on they just seemed changed. The decision to fulfill that commandment just made them much happier. Plus it's marriage. That's just a happy thing! I know I won't be there for the baptism, but it was still awesome to see the evolution of that couple.
We got everyone with a cell phone looking up the gospel library application. Plus we were getting everyone their membership numbers so that they could get onto family search. Wow! The technology of the church is just so awesome! I'm not trunky, but when I get home, I'm SO getting that app!
We had an investigator, Fabiola, that had a light bulb that burned out just before I got there. This past week we had enough of it and went to buy a new bulb. The switch board was in the locked evangelist church next door that shared the electricity, but we decided that it wasn't necessary to just replace the bulb. When I went to turn the bulb, something didn't feel right. It had gotten humidified and was all bad. When I turned, the bulb came off, but the metal part didn't. It caused a spark that did something to the electrical system and all the lights went off in the little house. We felt so bad! But here comes the miracle - we were all praying really hard. The church goers just happened to show up to clean the church and we were able to put the light back on and fix it all up! God loves us.
I noticed as I was watching my last companion, Elder Inman, what really makes him a great missionary. A lot of times we talk about what the missionaries do, the skills they have, stuff like that. For example, there was a really huge missionary here a little time ago that really demanded attention and was able to teach without many interruptions, mostly because he looked like he could run a marathon carrying you without breaking a sweat. With Elder Inman, I noticed just how much he felt what he was doing. It's not so much your knowledge or the skills you've developed that make you a good missionary or that give you a strong testimony - although that helps - but more important is what you feel, and really understanding the importance of the work we as latter-day saints have to eternally save the children of God. There are a lot of missionaries that know that, but I realized when Elder Inman was talking that there aren't as many missionaries that really feel that inside. It's a goal I have.
We found an awesome lady named Ana! Very humble, and just sat and listened. She accepted a baptismal date, accepted to read and pray, everything. When we got to the end, she didn't want to give the closing prayer. We tried a couple times and she flat out refused. We tried a little bit more and she finally agreed. It was a long prayer, even though it was only four phrases long. The feeling that came into that room was so wonderful. The Spirit was there to testify of what we were teaching, and she felt it. After the prayer, we were able to identify it. The Spirit is so key in this work. It's nice to remember that there are always people who have prepared themselves to be able to feel it.
I got to testify to an excommunicated member about the Atonement. That really is a powerful doctrine. It's sometimes hard to imagine just how powerful the atonement is, but really, it has the potential to erase even the most horrendous sin, or the worst hurt that someone could feel. I love having a knowlege, and somewhat of a comprehension of what Jesus Christ really did for me. I'm so grateful to have felt its effects in my life to be able to testify of its power to others.
I realized something during my study. A big emphasis in the mission right now is opening the mouth and talking to everyone. Elder Ballard really drilled it into the mission presidents when he came. I found a talk from him from the 80s where he said the same thing (funny how the gospel never changes, right?) He cited a passage from D&C 24, where it says if you open the mouth, you'll have strength. I found it interesting that the promise wasn't that the people will listen, or that you'll find the prepared people, rather that you'll have strength. It's hard, but it really does make you feel better. On Friday, I tried talking to as many people as I could. There wasn't  a single street contact that even so much as showed interest, but somehow, we still found various new people to teach - more than all the week combined. They didn't come from where I expected, but they were there. The Lord fulfills all his promises. That reminds me of point two from my good missionary formula - start being a missionary now. When we asked Elder Acey Mangum the best advice to prepare for the mission, he told us to just start doing it now. Even though in Utah there are a lot of members, just start talking to people. He mentioned in the line at the supermarket, on the bus, etc. Wherever you are, just talk to people. There was a great article about that in the March Liahona. Anyway, I was thinking about that for the newsletter.
I found an awesome scripture the other day! 1 John 3:2. It's so stinkin' clear! I know there are a lot of plain and precious parts that were taken out of the Bible, but when I find scriptures like that, sometimes it surprises me that we're the only ones with some of our doctrine. Even so, the Book of Mormon is still clearer. We read 2 Nephi 31 with some investigators this week. I really didn't appreciate that passage before the mission. I thought it was just overused. But wow, does it help investigators to just get it! It's so clear! And all over the place in the Book of Mormon it's like that! It's the exact same thing that's in the Bible, just much clearer. 
One more story! Not so spiritual, but it was great. We got a reference and we went to contact him. He answered and said, "I'm sorry, but right now's really not a good time. It's my sister's birthday and I'm very... drunk. I'm not quite sure the word for it... I'm not... conscious? But I really do like religious things! Can you come back... Friday?" The funny part? He said it all in English, with an Argentine-English accent hybrid. It was kinda hilarious. I couldn't stop smiling. There's just something about a drunk, well-educated Argentine recognizing that he's drunk... in English. It kinda made my day.
Anyway, that's my weekly report! We're getting started a little late in the area due to the whole bus issue, but it'll be a great day! Thanks for all writing me! I love you guys! We'll talk on Sunday.
Elder Willey

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