Sunday, July 27, 2014

Santiago, July 21, 2014

Hello Family!
I went to Frias this week! It's about 2 and a half hours south of Frias, right there on the border of Cordoba, and close to Catamarca as well. The bus to go there is terrible. I think I talked about that before... Coming back it was full, so we had to wait another 3 hours before coming back. Fun fun! I really like being in the city. There are a lot more people here.
While I was there, we talked to an inactive lady with a delicious bakery. When we asked why she didn't go, she said it wasn't for work, nor because she got offended by a member nor a leader, nor because she slept in. That left us fairly puzzled - those are the reasons why everyone else is less active. She said that she wanted to talk to the branch president about why she didn't go. Fine by me! He's got keys. Priesthood keys are better. Never hurts to refer cases there.
We talked to an old lady who was one of the only non members in her family. She said that she didn't want to get baptized until her grandson got baptized. He's been dead for 3 months, and she wants to wait until the temple work is done for him. It's interesting how Satan will use whatever excuse he can to prevent people from getting baptized. The dumbest thing can be used, even something really important and special, like the baptism of a dead relative. Sometimes we just have to keep an eternal perspective. I was reading in 3 Nephi 12 and thinking about just how important it is that we always keep focused on the the things of the next life, because the things of this life don't last very long.
We talked to another lady living with a member of the church. When I asked why she hadn't gotten baptized already, she said that she was waiting for her answer - that she'd asked around a month ago, but she still hadn't gotten anything. When we asked how long ago it was that the missionaries had taught her about the law of chastity, she said about a month ago. We read in 1 Nephi 15 and talked about how we can't hope that God guides us if we don't follow his guidelines. They're going to take out a turn to get married this week!
With the new focus on converts that our president is asking us to do, I noticed a new application of Alma 59:9. I'd always thought about it in terms of repentance - it's easier to avoid the sin than to sin and repent. Now I was thinking that it applies to new members, too. It's easier to retain than to reactivate. The members that are active of our converts are those that from the beginning visited with the missionaries, got a calling quickly, and fulfilled it, and had a sustaining influence of church members, who promptly asked what was going on if they missed a Sunday. Those who are inactive were greeted well by members, but never got a calling, never really got involved, never made good friends in the church, etc. Interesting to think about.
We met a really awesome 7 year old. She was reading in the Book of Mormon a ton, had some great questions, and could spit back at us every detail we taught her. That's usually something really sad, but the best part is... she's turning eight next week! I love that primary song about turning eight. I'm just sad it isn't in Spanish.
I always love thinking about how the things of this world help us understand God and his laws. We were talking to a really catholic lady who said that it doesn't matter what church you're in - all of them go to God and it's all good. It's a really common view here. Thinking about building a skyscraper, or baking a cake, or doing your math homework, or just about anythying else, if you do it in a different way from the blueprint, recipe, answer key, etc, will it turn out the same? NO! I love the scripture that's in Matthew 5 that says if we break one of the smallest commandments, we'll be very small in God's kingdom. Just a fun thought.
I love the sacrament. This week I was feeling fairly stressed for a few different reasons and taking the sacrament just reminded me that we can't do it all on our own. It was such a peaceful moment thinking about what my Savior did for me. I'm so grateful for that sacred ordinance, and I can't imagine going a week without it for the rest of my life.
Hector's getting baptized this week! He's Oscar's brother and Marcela's son - our last two baptisms here. It's so cool to see how he's changed! In the beginning it was a pain to get him to sit down and listen. He's 13 years old, but looks like he's 9. He didn't go to church the first couple weeks because he slept in or went to go play soccer. He refused to pray, or only prayed when his brother told him what he had to say, for around the first 5 visits. On Saturday when we went to visit him, he was waiting there with the chairs ready, was super willing to pray, and on Sunday, came to church without a problem. The gospel changes people. And now he's getting baptized! It was interesting to see the role his family played. When we started talking about the word of wisdom, his mom said, "I tried telling him the other day when he was about to drink coffee that he couldn't, but he didn't listen!" Even so, when we taught him about it, he already knew. It was just reinforcement. Yay for parents!
Anyway, it was a pretty great week. Hope you all have a great one! Love you all!
Elder Willey

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