Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Santiago, June 23, 2014

Hello Family!
The world cup is kinda nuts here. There's almost always a TV near by where you can find the games. The missionaries don't watch the games, but the majority carry around their little scorecards and ask people what the scores were. When Argentina plays, it's a different story. The whole world shuts down except for a few taxis, and there's a bunch of fireworks every time they make a goal (all two or three of them). Even so, the work goes on.
The Spirit is really cool. This week we ate with some recent converts. They said that in the beginning, going to church was kinda weird. The boyfriend went just because he thought it was great that his girlfriend was going. Then as they kept on going, they started to notice the difference in their home and in their lives and they started to realize that instead of thinking, "We have to get up now; it's Sunday." They started thinking on Wednesday, "Is Sunday here yet?" It's crazy how the gospel can change lives and people. Just the feeling in that tiny little house was so wonderful! I think as members we sometimes lose that sense of how special it is to have the Holy Ghost because we're so used to it, but it really is something special.
On that topic, we talked to a new investigator we'd found the other day, Raul. He said that he wasn't really in a mood to do anything because his aunt had died. We started talking about the plan of salvation and asked him how he felt. Better. Comforted. That's the mission of the Holy Ghost!
We talked to a lady whose dad was an evangelist prophet. She really started to show interest, and we were testifying about the first vision and the Book of Mormon, etc. When we challenged her to go to church, she said that she wasn't sure. Well why not? She mentioned that her dad was a prophet and didn't really know why, she just felt like she couldn't go. I realized what a blessing it was to be born into the church. Clearly, one has to take their own decision and gain their own testimony, but parental influence can have a really strong pull on a person. Luckily, we know that we have one Father whose influence is even stronger! We'll see how things go.
We went to visit a member this week. I'd gone to visit her one or two times with Elder Sandoval, but we'd dropped a few investigators in that neighborhood and hadn't really gone back. During weekly planning, I thought, "Hey, we should probably visit Hermana Castillo eventually." The day before, we had a contact that told us that she wanted us to come tomorrow, so we'd made a plan to be close to that neighborhood. The plans we had all fell through and Hna Castillo came to mind. So we went. She said that she'd been praying and praying for someone from the church to come visit her the day before, and we came! God orchestrates things so that prayers get answered, even if there's a whole lot of plan changing that needs to happen.
We had a leader meeting in Tucuman. Every district and zone leader in the four zones in Tucuman and Santiago was there. We ate lasagna. Turns out there was a bacteria in the meat that they used for the lasagna, and almost every leader in the south of the mission had diarrhea on Saturday. I was saved. But it's interesting the tactics that Satan uses. Be careful with the meat you buy!
We committed a ton of people to church - more than I've committed in the past few months. And no one came. Sometimes, that happens. There's a quote from president that I love - "We have to do all that we can. From there, God will show us that we haven't really done all we can, and will help us find out what more we need to do to get there." He gives us weaknesses so that we become strong, and the testimony comes after the trial of the faith!
Church was fantastic! I learned a ton! In priesthood, as we read the oath and covenant of the priesthood, I realized that to fulfill that covenant, we have to magnify our office or calling. Fulfillling the basics of the calling isn't enough. To really gain all the Father has, we have to magnify. Which doesn't just mean to make bigger, but also to make more magnificent! In Gospel Principles, I realized that in the 10 commandments, the Lord didn't tell them to keep the sabbath day. He just reminded them. It's a super-old commandment, because it's really important.
In sacrament meeting, the stake president took five minutes at the end of the meeting and gave a testimony of the Book of Mormon. It was awesome. He started talking about the Abrahamic covenant, that Christ was to appear to his descendants. That's why when he came and the samaritans and others asked for his help, he explained that he'd only come for the Jews. As part of that, he had an obligation to visit the rest of the house of Israel in the Americas, hence the other sheep scripture. I'd never put those two things together before. He also explained about the patriarchal blessings that Jacob gave to his sons - That Judah was going to have the Savior as a descendant and that Joseph's sons were going to gather Israel. He explained that it's another reason why the Book of Mormon was written. They were descendants of Joseph, and had that responsibility. That kinda blew my mind, too. Going to church is just the best!
In my personal study, I was reading a little about the definition of commandments. They're orders from God. I looked up the word order, which also has the definition of a state of peace and traquility - the result of following God's orders. It also said that orders were directions given from someone who had authority or a better view to reach a common goal. God and eternal life definitely fit that description. Interesting how even language testifies of the gospel!
A recent convert gave an awesome testimony yesterday. We were teaching him and his mom and we asked him if he'd read and prayed about the Book of Mormon. He said that he had. He said that after praying, he didn't receive an answer immediately. Rather, when the missionaries came and gave their testimonies the next time, he felt a burning in the bosom. Afterward, in seminary, he felt like his mind opened up, and that he was learning more than ever. Then in church, he just felt comfortable and peaceful. God always answers. If people just bother to ask, he'll reply. And if he doesn't reply, if "the Lord maketh no such thing known unto" you, then it's because you're not trying to keep the commandments or you don't have faith. It's really simple. That's one reason why I love being a missionary. We don't have to convince anyone to change their religion or change their life. We just have to convince them to pray and from there the Lord takes over. It really is a great work!
Have a great week!

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