Monday, June 9, 2014

Santiago, June 9, 2014

Hello Beloved Family!
So the week started off with Bolivian fried chicken and a 7 hour trip to Salta. I sat next to a chemical engineer. Not too interested in the church, but it was really interesting to talk to him! Plus there was banana bread on the trip. It flew by.
In the leader council, the things that stood out to me the most were when President talked about the fact that commandments are non-negotiable and when he gave his testimony of the Book of Mormon. Hard to describe why the testimony was so great - mostly just because of the Spirit that was there and the fact that he cried, which is something that no missionary I know has seen more than twice, this last time included. When he talked about how strict the commandments are, he mentioned how in the temple, you can't even move a plant without receiving permission from the first presidency. Kinda crazy. It made us all think that having a new mission president might not be all that different after all.
On the way back to Santiago, we realized that we'd forgotten my comp's scriptures, our clothes that we'd brought, and the keys to the appartment in Salta. We had to get in through a window. Luckily, the sister training leaders had stayed there an extra day to do visa paperwork, and were able to bring us everything Wednesday. Tender mercies!
Wow... Estefania had us all over the place this week. We've been visiting her since I got here, but the missionaries have worked with her for a couple months now. The issue has been the law of chastity. This week was going to be her wedding. Since we weren't here in the beginning of the week, we asked other missionaries to help us out in the city offices. With the contacts of the member, we were able to take out an appointment for this week! We got all the paperwork filled out and everything! We had one last paper on Thursday that we had to deliver. When we went, the boyfriend came out and told us that he didn't want to get married. It's hard to take him seriously with his two lip piercings and the other holes that he's put in his head. We tried everything to try to help him understand, but he was pretty set in his decision. Estefania decided that she was going to leave him. She went the next day to live with her mom, but there wasn't an available bed there. She tried with her aunt as well (and brought her a Book of Mormon to read), but her aunt was hospitalized. She ended up moving back. We got permission from the mission to give her one of the old beds we had in the appartment, and a member helped us deliver it! That was pretty great. When we went on Saturday to confirm the baptism, she said that she had a work appointment in the evening, but that she didn't know what time, and couldn't commit to be baptized that night. We ended up pushing the baptism back later so that she could be sure to go. Then came more issues with the font. First, we had to clean it. All the water from last week had left the font a grimy mess.
The grimy font

From there, we turned on the water. After about 2 minutes, the pressure started to go down until it cut off. NOOO!!!! We had to go to the other chapel again. We let all the members know and frantically started filling the font, despite the water of that chapel sporadically turning on and off. Then we got a call saying that one of the young women had gone missing and that all the members were out looking for her .That didn't help things (they found her in the end). The members were able to pass by Estefania to be able to bring here to the baptism, but she wasn't there when they went. She had gone to a friend-of-her-2-year-old-daughter's birthday party. That bummed us out a little, but even so, I learned a ton from the experience - don't let the obstacles keep you from trying. From the marriage to the schedule to the bed to the font to the missing member, there were so many chances to just give up and leave it for later. I feel good knowing that we did just about everything so that she could get baptized, and in one of these weeks, she'll get there!
I finally got to know Fernando! He's a recent convert of about a month that's been on vacation in Cordoba. And he's super rich. And smart. The first thing he said when we got there was, "Well Elders, what do I have to do now to keep progressing in the gospel?" During the lesson he bore his testimony of tithing, and pulled out a pizza he'd made for us. It was pretty awesome. From there we went to a meeting to talk about recent converts with our former second counselor who we won't be seeing much anymore (he was called as bishop in another ward). During the conversation, we excitedly told him that we had a male convert with a testimony of tithing. He replied like this, "That's really great that he has a testimony of tithing, but has he paid it since his baptism?" That was a very good piont. It reminded me of when President was talking about Matthew 7 and the wise and foolish man, and that if we don't do the things, it won't do us any good to have a strong testimony of it.
I got sick this week for the first time since Oregon. Luckily, it was planning day, so we were going to be in the pension for a while anyway. When it came time to work, I was all better! Thank goodness for over-the-counter drugs in Argentina! God works in mysterious ways, right?
We played the Don't Eat Pete tithing version for a family night again this week. That game never gets old!
I gave a talk on family history this week based out of the primary song. I love primary songs! They teach doctrine so well!
Patriarchal blessings are really cool. The Gospel Principles class on spiritual gifts inspired me to review all those mentioned in my patriarchal blessing. God really does have a ton of blessings in store for us. Every time I read through that, I feel like I've got a lot left to do before I can really say that I'm living up to my potential.
We had a stake meeting yesterday. I was somewhat frustrated. They presented the new plan to help activate male recent converts in the age to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. It started off really well and then we split up and the meeting started talking about whatever. In Preach My Gospel and in almost every trainging with President Levrino, we're reminded to always stay focused on the goal and the commitment we want to leave during the teaching. I've come to realize that this advice applies to just about everything. The point of the meeting was to present the plan and help people understand what they had to do to help get the converts to the Melchizedek Priesthood. In the end, we were talking about the Holy Ghost and how old is too old to go to church by yourself. It made me realize just how blessed I am to be on a mission. There are so many lessons learned here that help in every aspect of life, especially to help further the purposes of God. The mission really does change your life and help you in so many ways. I'm so grateful that I've still got time to keep going!
Well, thanks for all writing me. I love reading your letters! Have a great week!

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