Monday, September 29, 2014

Santiago - September 29, 2014

Hello Family!
So this week started off really great! We had two surprise family nights.
We'd recently completed our candy land temple game and went out, when all the appointments we had fell through. Then we saw a member in the street. We talked to her and asked if they'd already done their family night. Since she hadn't, we went in and got started! Before we could say the first prayer, they said, "Wait, wait, wait! We're going to go invite friends!" So the seminary-aged kids went to go get their friends. When the friends got there, they told us an awesome Book of Mormon story. Vanesa, the friend invited to the Family Night, had been feeling bad, so the daughter of this family, Fernanda, had gifted her a Book of Mormon. Vanesa read, and things got better! After that, a friend of Vanesa started feeling bad, so Vanesa told her that she was reading in this Book that made everything better. So she passed the book along and everything got better for her friend! It was like one of those stories that shows up in a church magazine! And an awesome testimony of the power of just reading in the Book of Mormon. Plus the family night was really fun. Everyone loves candyland, and even moreso when the doctrine of Christ is involved!
Our next family night we'd programmed with a couple of recent converts and their mom. Their parents are really great, but they need to get married, and the dad is never home to teach him, so they don't progress a whole lot. Just as we were about to start the family night, the dad walked in. Miracle! We all played and the mom and the dad just happened to be the first two to get to the temple. The kids were super excited and said, "Hey! It's prophetic! The temple is where you get married!" The parents felt very awkward in a spiritually guilty kind of way. It was absolutely wonderful! Afterward the son said, "Wow, we never play games as a family. That was really fun!" Truly, family night is an inspired program.
I had a good study on the Book of Mormon and how it helps us to develop faith. I was studying in Preach My Gospel in the section that I referred Libby to last week. I realized that it was never meant to be easy to accept the Book of Mormon. It was supposed to be an obstacle so that we might develop faith. Once we know that it's true, it's much easier to trust in God and we can have a lasting testimony. Preach My Gospel is just great. I hope your study goes well! I'm half expecting Elder Ballard to just talk about that again.
We helped Christian and his mom get started on their family history. It was awesome. We started talking about it early in the week and gave them a booklet. Then we showed them the church website another day. Yesterday we passed by and helped them create a family history account. That was cool. They just got started like crazy. There were three generations there just dumping as much information into the computer as they could. When they couldn't, his grandma just pulled a file out of no where with a bunch of old documents. No clue where that came from, but they just kept going. We had to leave due to time, but it was just awesome! The room was full of the Spirit of Elijah. There was such an excitement! I can't wait to go the next time and start reserving ordinances.
We did splits with the assistants this week. It was a surprise when they swung by the apartment just before bedtime on Thursday. Elder Merrill and I had a great day! We weren't planning on doing much proselyting, but rather going to a baptismal interview. My companion ended up taking a wrong bus and ended up pretty far from our area, but pretty close to the interview! As a result, I just started making up plans for the day. It was kinda hard in a success sense. Not many people seemed to want to listen. Even so, we were able to have a good attitude about it. For every person who didn't want to listen, there was a neighbor or someone else that lived close by! We ended up visiting a member who asked if we'd been able to visit her reference. We'd passed by, but still hadn't made contact. So we went by again. And they were home! It was a family whose father had been wrongly accused and illegally beaten to death by the police. She started by saying that she didn't believe in God and that she didn't have time, but with a little insistence we got in. We spent most of the lesson just listening to her tell the story and cry. From there we opened up the Book of Mormon and talked about the atonement. It's amazing the consolation and help that a testimony of the atonement can give. It's moments like those that make whatever trial on the mission totally worth it.
Saturday was so full of miracles that it's hard to remember them all. We started off and passed by a less active's house. We ended up knocking on the door just to see how they were. The lady came out and said, "Hey, I'm not doing anything. Do you want me to go do visits with you?" Okay! So she did. In lunch, I'd totally spaced that it was the sister's birthday. In the beginning of the mission, mom sent me a bunch of LDS and seminary scripture marker pencils. I thought, "What am I going to do with all of these?" Well, now I know that they make great emergency gifts! Unique and they help people remember to study their scriptures. What could be a better missionary gift?
Later, we went to Mario and Martina. There's still not much progress there for the divorce issue. Martina's always a little reluctant. We brought a member with us who's a contractor. They'd mentioned before that their bathroom was almost finished (so that they don't have to use the outhouse they have), and just needed a little more, so we thought it would be great to go by with him. Well, it was. He looked at the bathroom and started correcting things. Turns out their bathroom wasn't as close to finished as they thought. He said a couple times, "You know, I've got some extra tile in my house that I'm not using. I could bring it by here. This toilet isn't going to work with the way the pipes are set up here. I think I've got a new one just sitting in my garage." Martina just brightened up! On the way out she said, "I'm going to go to church! And I'm going to go on Monday to see what's going on with my divorce papers." Service, or even the thought of service, can soften hearts so much.
From there we were kinda just aimlessly wandering. We had planned a branch activity that got cancelled, so we didn't really have plans. Then this little girl said, "Hey, when can I go back to your church?" That tends to call the attention. She presented us to her family, and turns out two of her sisters are members with unregistered addresses in the ward directory. Kinda cool. The parents are also very receptive. That was another of those really cool miracles.
Last one for Saturday - and my personal favorite. We were going back to the apartment and I went to cross the street. I think my companion thought that I was going to a house on the other side and said, "Who lives there?" The house just happened to be a large, rather rich looking house. I replied that I had no idea, but that we could find out. We knocked the door, fulling expecting to get rejected. That's just kinda the expected with rich people houses. A younger guy came out and we explained who we were and asked if we could go in. He said, "Sure, why not?" Turns out that Julian is a fighter jet pilot with the Argentina Air Force home on vacation. He spoke English during the majority of the lesson. He actually was really interested. His prayer at the end was very sincere. On the way out, he said, "It's really crazy that you guys got here tonight. Any other night my dad - who's REALLY catholic - would have been here and would have slammed the door before you had the chance to talk." The Lord is just so interesting in the way he works. And some spiritual impressions can be really weird, but have really great results.
Sunday was also really great. The stake president gave a talk. I love when he gives talks. They're always very simple, with a base in his obvious study of Preach my Gospel and the Liahona. This talk was a mesh of Lesson One with Roots and Branches - Elder Cook's conference talk - with his own personal experiences to demonstrate the importance of the family. I was just thinking about how important the family really is. The gospel has been restored in its full plenitude so that we might be sealed and receive all the blessing of an eternal family starting now, if we do all the things we should. It's like one of the prophets said, heaven is just the continuation of an ideal home.
Last miracle for the week! Yesterday we went to contact referrals and we had one that had the direction "10th street between Saenz Peña and 391st passage." Somewhat vague. Generally when contacting something like that, you just start asking around for that name. We decided to start with a house that I'd received as a referral three months ago that had answered the door with something like, "Oh no, I don't have time for this. Just move along and leave me alone." To that effect. Not sure why we decided to start there. We went and contacted the guy in the store and he told us where the referral we were looking for lived. We explained a little about who we are and what we do, and he said no because he's busy. I thought, "Okay, they had their second chance," and got ready to just leave them with a pass-along card. As I invited them to church my comp asked again, "Can we go in and pray with you?" The guy's wife from inside said, "Ah, just let 'em in." So we went in. And it was actually a great family! She said, "So what is it exactly that you guys preach? Two guys came to my house a few months ago, but I was having a really bad day and had a terrible headache." Very receptive. And she wants to invite her neighbor for when we come back. It was another one of those really unexpected and easily recognizable miracles.
Anyway, that was my week. I hope you all have a great one!
Elder Willey

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