Monday, September 22, 2014

Santiago - September 22, 2014

Good afternoon my Beloved Family!
I'm so glad that you all let me know about how we're going with family prayer, scripture study, home evening, etc. It totally made my day. Something I love about our family is that every time we, as missionaries, talk about stuff like that, I can give my testimony from personal experience. Even though we've never really been very consistent in every moment, we had our times when we were, and those times stick in the memory. So thank you guys for all you're doing. I'm excited to get back and help, even though I know it'll be hard. Even so, I don't really want to leave... especially after a week like this past one. 
Monica T. got baptized! She went totally cold turkey on the cigarettes. She was planning on quitting little by little,
starting two weeks before her baptism, but a good friend died in her arms and her husband had an infected toe, and she couldn't deal with the anxiety, so up until the weekend before her baptism she was smoking 10-15 per day. And then she stopped! We called her every day to see how she was doing. It was hard to visit her since she has a house very far away and another closer where we visit. On Tuesday we didn't have plans to pass by, but we called and just as we were passing the house, she let us know that plans had been changed and that she was home. Had we not known that, we would have lost the lesson Wednesday and not been able to see her until Friday. As it was, we were able to visit her Tuesday, reschedule the lesson for Wednesday, and see her Friday as well. Little miracles. Thursday we had a lesson by cell phone. We called just in a moment when she was feeling depressed and her husband had told her that she couldn't do it. It was the first time I've had a lesson by phone. It was kinda awesome. Technology rocks. At the baptism her mom gave a testimony of her conversion and reactivation. It was a great baptismal service!
Mario is just an awesome guy. I've mentioned him before - he has a lot of health problems, but he loves how he feels in church, so he'll do anything to get there. His problem is that he can't get baptized until he starts living the law of chastity. He and his wife have more of a best friend relationship, and they've been together for 30 years. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why she wouldn't agree to marry him. On Tuesday, we visited him and he made me feel all sad inside when he asked, "If my wife won't marry me, can I still be baptized?" I felt so bad for him! Then on Thursday we decided to bring Alejandro and Gisela to give testimony of how great marriage is, having gotten married two years ago themselves. Unfortunately, Mario's wife wasn't there that day. Saturday we got there and he and his wife, Martina, were waiting for us! We talked about the ten commandments and when we got to adultery, we talked more about the law of chastity. She starting giving some strange reasons for why she doesn't want to get married - that she wants to be sure about it, to be sure that it's really a commandment, stuff like that. As we continued talking about it, she finally confessed that she was already married. I felt so great! Divorces can be really hard here, and it means that I probably won't be here when they get married, but I just felt so good knowing why. I finally understood. She had felt bad for doing something she knew was wrong, but hasn't been able to get a divorce for lack of time, money, etc, and that's why she never got married in 30 years. I was so confused, because they love each other so much and understand perfectly well why marriage is so important, and understanding that last piece just made everything make sense. Now we're going to be able to help! We know members that have government contacts, so everything's going to work out great! Mario's so excited to get baptized, too! And Martina is as well - she just wants and needs a little more time. Long story short, understanding people and their problems really gives you a capacity to help and serve that you won't have if you never listen long enough to really comprehend the issues they have.
We had a fun lesson with a less-active family - Maira and her dad. Neither one wanted to do the prayer in the beginning, so we read in 2 Nephi 32 where it talks about how the evil spirit teaches you not to pray. We talked about how that comes in many different forms - I'll do it later, I'm tired, I'm too busy, etc. It applies to any one of the little things we have to do in the gospel, like scriptures, family history, etc. In the end, we asked her to say the prayer. She said no. We reminded her that she was listening to Satan's teachings. She started to explain that she felt embarrassed, uncomfortable, etc., but then stopped herself and said, "NO! I've just gotta do it." And said the prayer. Little truths from 12 year olds - Sometimes, ya just gotta do it - maybe with a little encouragement and help from others, but there's no substitue for just doing it.
We're working a lot with Andrea, Monica G.'s daughter (Monica G. got baptized not this past Saturday, but the week before). She's a tough one... She's definitely got ADD and it's tough to keep her attention long enough to teach her something. I'm using every family home evening and game that I've ever seen in my life to try to get her interested - Plan of Salvation figurines, bleach in colored water, my don't-eat-pete tithing game, brushing teeth vs. scripture study - honestly, it's been really fun. Today we're planning to make Candyland into a temple trip game. It should be fun. I'm kinda running out of ideas, but I think little by little we're helping her learn the doctrine at a level that she understands.
We had an awesome lesson with Maria, a less active recent convert! We started by asking if she believed that the Book of Mormon was true. She said that it could be, but that she wasn't sure. We talked a little about it and she started talking about her conversion - about how things were in the time that the missionaries passed by, how her family reacted, what she'd read - she started tearing up a bit, too. Then, in the end, she said, "Elders, I'm sorry for what I said at the beginning, I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is true." It's amazing how much power giving your own testimony can have.
We talked to a member who "didn't really feel the need to go the temple." She explained that she grew up in the country, where her parents taught her about God, and that she felt the spirit growing up, even without any kind of chapel or building, and that she didn't understand why the church had to build giant buildings when they could use the money on other things. A couple things came to mind - the story of Jesus and Judas and the ointment, and the story of the saints in Kirtland breaking their china plates, but my comp beat me to the punch with a scripture from some scriptures from the Old Testament. It talked about how the Jews had to bring the best of everything they had to build the tabernacle, then in another part about how Solomon bought the best of the best to build the temple. Really, the saints making sacrifices for temples isn't anything new. I've decided that that is a part of a temple - the sacrifice that it takes to build it and get there. It's something that God's always required because it's not just any other building - it's a building built to support the presence of God. That's what really made it click for this member we were teaching. God's spirit can always be with us, but the temple is literally his house where he comes. Temples are so amazing. I can't wait to be able to go again! I can't wait to remember how incredbile it feels. I wonder how the saints in Moses' time or in Kirtland would feel knowing how many temples we've built or how close they are. We truly are a blessed dispensation. I get to go through the Buenos Aires temple on the way home. They always put the flight plans to give us just enough time for a session.
Anyway, it's been a great week. This week will be great as well. That's just how it is on the mission, despite all the stress and problems and the constant feeling that you need to improve - everything is still just great!
Hope you all have a wonderful week!
Elder Willey

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