Monday, August 11, 2014

Santiago - August 11, 2014

Hello Family!
Anyway, it was an interesting week. I spent 14 hours in a bus on Monday and Tuesday, but I surprisingly didn't lose much sleep. The bus miraculously left on time (after the guy in the ticket booth played a really mean joke and told me that it left early), and we got to Salta earlier than usual. The leader council was really short - we usually went from morning until around 5 or 6, but we finished with lunch this time. Instead of getting back to Santiago at 2 in the morning, we got back around 11! The bad news was that I left my backpack in Salta with my scriptures, my toothbrush, my deodorant, etc. It gave me a good chance to focus on the Book of Mormon though! Without much more to study it was kinda great! I especially loved in 3 Nephi 19:1-3 when it talks about how everyone got together in their families, then shared the gospel all night long. Family mission plans were all over the place this week: First mom said last Monday that the missionaries invited the family to make one, then in the leadership council we watched a movie from "Hastening the Work of Salvation" where the family shares the scriptures, then I read it in the Book of Mormon, and it popped up in a couple other places as well. Oh! Like the Mormonad of the August Liahona. So just out of curiosity, do we have a family mission plan? If so, what is it?
The organization of the church is so perfect. I think in almost every ward I've been in, they've attempted an "emergency rescue activity," where they decide on a few families during church, and decide on a meeting place and a time to get together and go and visit people. It's never worked before. Always a couple of leaders come late and then they get discouraged because no one else comes and in the end no one goes out to visit. When they were talking about doing it in Elders Quorum this week, an ex-branch president spoke up and said something along the lines of, "Brothers, this isn't the church's program. According to what the prophet has asked us to do, we shoule be home teachers. Our leaders should assign us companions with a spirit of prayer and with the help of ward council, decide on the families that we should be in charge of visiting. That's the Lord's system." I got to thinking about it afterward and thought how true it is. How often do we try to do things faster instead of doing it how the Lord wanted? During the week I saw an example of that in Duty to God. When the branch president had an interview with a couple of our young men converts (Oscar and Hector), he gave them Duty to God pamphlets. We went over the pamphlets with them, and explained what they had to do. When we came back for the next visit, Oscar told us, "I was planning on trying to do it all really fast, especially since I'm starting a little behind, but then I read this part in the beginning that says 'Don't do it fast; it's not a list of things that you have to do. Rather, it's a way to make your testimony grow.'" That program really is inspired. Seeing it from a missionary perspective was like understanding it all over again. It's a guide to strengthening your testimony with parent and leader help, setting goals and helping you to focus on doing the most important things. The church is just great.
Talking about that, I love the Liahona! It's so great! I've been reading the August edition and I just love how it makes you feel! The gospel is so true. When I read words like "covenant, eternal marriage, family, saving grace, and the gospel of Jesus Christ," it just makes me feel good inside. That's what the gospel's for.
We had a great eternal marriage lesson with Gisela - the recent convert from last week with the shop. As I was testifying of eternal families, it made me realize just how grateful I am for mine. It's kinda sorta really incredibly awesome being on a mission. I remember saying in the begining of my mission that I've never felt my family's love more than on the mission. It's still true! Maybe it's just because I never paid as much attention before. I love hearing from my family every week and hearing how they're progressing in the gospel. There's a powerful spirit that comes with families.
Something interesting - I was reveiwing notes from the MTC (that feels like forever ago), and was rereading my notes from the talks from the general authorities. I can hardly believe that I wrote that stuff - I didn't understand it at all in the MTC. In some cases, it was word for word what the general authorities in our area are telling us now -to name a few, work with the converts, "talk to everyone, even your waiter," baptism is sacred, and should be practiced, etc. You'd think they're prophets or something! Just goes to show that God doesn't change, and if you're paying attention, he'll tell you all you need to know long before you even understand what in the world it means.
Our two investigators that came to church were pretty cool. One was Cristian. I know I've mentioned him before. I just love the way he is! He's a 29-year-old bachelor, something similar to a pro tennis player, whose friends are not even remotely interested in religion, has a sweet Toyota Corolla and yet he just really wants to get baptized! Not the usual demographic. It kinda reminds me of Alma's words, when he's talking to all the poor, humble people in Alma 32, and says something like "I don't want to say that all you people are humble just because you're poor; there are some I'm sure that would humble themselves in whatever circumstance." Well, we found one of them! Pretty great.
Our other investigator was Mario - the older guy we found last week that has to go to dialysis three times a week, can't see very well, and is almost always sick. He showed up alone, without his wife. Sunday was Children's Day in Argentina, where all the kids get presents and the parents drink a lot. He works selling gifts, so he was super busy all week. We passed by two or three times, but he was never home. Due to the fact that he doesn't have a phone either, we had zero contact with him all week. And he just showed up at church, even though his wife was busy doing other things. There really are people out there that God has prepared!
Anyway, that was my week. I hope you all have a great one!
Elder Willey

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