Monday, October 28, 2013

28 October 2013

This morning I sat and made a list of how my mission has changed me. It'll be an ever-growing list I hope.

This coming week is going to be tough. From 5-9 PM tonight we have MLC where we will be at the mission home discussing the mission, goals, and the future.

Tomorrow from 9-12 we will have another MLC and the Director of Proselyting and some other SLC officials are coming to train the zone leaders about the iPads. From 1-4pm the mission will be coming in by zone to get the iPads and be trained quickly on how to use the AreaBook Planner app and other tools.

So we're not working tonight, half of tomorrow, and from 4-9pm on Thursday since it's Halloween. Joy.

Last week was the last "greenie" meeting for half of the zone as they completed their 12 week training program. Half of the zone got transferred. One sister missionary who has been out six weeks is training and three who have been out 12 weeks are training. 60% of the missionaries in the Arizona Tempe mission now are in their first 6 months. Things are changing dramatically! 

We made the last greenie meeting fun. From the stand, Elder Gaspar and I did announcements but only saying one word each. We played the opening hymn by playing one note each too. 

It has been really hard for a lot of the new missionaries to come into the field and then be put on Facebook. They said goodbye to their family 2-6 weeks before and now they can potentially talk to them everyday. That's not the idea of Facebook unless it's focused around a missionary purpose. 

The wards we cover have been very enthusiastic about us being on Facebook. We get lots of "thank yous" at church. We're still waiting for other people to start sharing the gospel over Facebook though. We invite, invite, invite, then follow up, follow up, follow up, and usually nothing happens. We are very grateful for the few who have taken it to heart and are sharing all over the place on Facebook. 

It has been fun to see friends and family posting on my statuses to answer questions and doubts of other people posting on my statuses on Facebook. The discussion is great! And it gives everyone a tiny tiny glimpse of the opposition we meet everyday :)

This past week we got a referral from other missionaries about a woman who wanted a blessing. We went over and gave the blessing. She has been very sick. Three days later we returned and she said she has felt dramatically better emotionally and physically. 

We also had the opportunity to give a blessing this past week who is struggling with giving up smoking. He's working towards baptism. Twice before he had "fallen off date" for smoking and so we decided we would step it up. We'd been praying for weeks for our investigators to get "recommitted," but it wasn't until this day that I realized we had to become recommitted as well.

That's not to say we've been lazy, no. I've just gotten in the mentality that I can teach correct principles and things will work out. I've taken a step out of the day to day affairs of those we teach. I've stopped caring about their personal lives as much as I should.

So I recommitted myself and we recommitted our companionship. We visited this man, taught a lesson around feeling the spirit, and then offered him a priesthood blessing. He asked me to administer it. He said that as soon as we said "Amen," that he felt a burden taken off his back. We sat down, finished the lesson, and left.

The next day we walked up and he had a cigarette in hand. He looked at us and said, "I have a curse." He told us that every time he had tried to smoke he felt sick and nauseous and like throwing up. 

He couldn't smoke anymore.

I left that day with an increased testimony in the power of priesthood blessings.

But as I pondered this morning on what helps me endure it isn't the amazing miracles that I see. What helps me keep going are the little things; the blessing given to me in the MTC by a dear friend, the personal revelation that has assured me of my purpose, the miraculous changes I've seen in those around me and in myself. Miracles are great. They reaffirm my faith. But I don't look to them in the times of trial - I look to the quiet and personal answers I have received from a loving Heavenly Father.

The work is picking up in the Spanish ward. We are finding people who are prepared and they are progressing in the gospel.

This week was another week with over 50 lessons taught. Facebook has clicked for me.

We got played. We were teaching someone who looked so interested. She did everything we asked her to do, she came to church, general conference, and made friends in the ward. And then she asked for welfare. She got it. And then she disappeared.

I've been thinking a lot about that this past week. The church helps random people out with everyday problems, why? Not because they're expecting them to get baptized and come to church, but because the church solves problem. Christ told us to sacrifice all we had for others. Through our sacrifices, through our charity, through our Christlike love, we can help other people recognize in themselves their true identity as sons and daughters of God. All we can do is hope they act on that.

I also realized this week that in my entire mission I've only come into an area and had one person that was already being taught get baptized. Of everyone I've ever baptized, I have found and taught them all except for one. That's pretty cool.

Well it's official! The Mesa Alma stake is part of the Gilbert temple district. We are 10 minutes walking distance from the Mesa temple and yet we are assigned to the temple 30 minutes away. Classic. All that that means is that we get to be super involved in the open house...assuming I'm here in two months.

Oh goodness this past week someone asked what we did as missionaries and I said, "we are eating people, I mean teaching people..." That was embarrassing. I was hungry...

Six weeks ago Elder Gaspar and I taught someone who we ended up referring to the young single adult ward in Tempe. He was a cool guy and had some things to work on, as we all do. That was the last we heard of him. This past week we were teaching the friend of one of our recent converts and this guy we had taught six weeks before randomly walks out of the house and says, "Hey! I'm getting baptized this Saturday!" 

That made our day.

That very recent convert is amazing. Every week she brings a friend to church. This past week she brought a family to church with her. Why do we, as lifelong members, lose the missionary spirit that these recent converts so clearly love, live, and share? I hope we can all recommit ourselves and follow Elder Ballard's challenge from General Conference and invite one person to church by Christmas.

I posted this status on Facebook this past week but I will repeat it here for those who missed it.

Talking with people on the street can either the best or the 
worst part of the day. 
Last night we were visiting someone who turned out not to be home. While we walked away I noticed two people on the third floor balcony. I wasn't planning on talking to them originally but as I walked away I felt something tell me to go back. So I did.

From 40 feet below them I said, "How's your evening going?" The woman yelled back, "I'm feeling blessed!"

I asked her why and she said, "Do you think I'm happy?" "Yes," I responded. She said, "Well, I'm not."

She and her friend were both smoking and had clearly been drinking. It wasn't a great situation and being 40 feet below didn't help.

I replied, "What can I do to help?" She quickly said, "Give me a 40 [ounce] to drink!" I told her, "I probably can't do that..."

She said, "Then what can you do?"

I thought for a second and said, "I can pray for you."

Thirty seconds later she was walking down the three flights of stairs with her friend to the ground level.

We gathered together and she said, "My best friend just died and I'm lost. I'm struggling with several addictions and I don't know what to do."

We bowed our heads in humble prayer.

As I said amen and looked up I saw them in tears. The woman thanked me repeatedly and said, "I feel better."

Watching her walk away with a smile on her face put an even bigger one on mine.

Just like I said the other day, it is those tender moments that make it all worthwhile. Watching one person struggling with the loss of a loved one, addictions, sadness, and depression is humbling but watching them overcome those and get back in their feet is truly inspiring.

May we all remember that He is the healer.

Missionary work is great. 

Thank you all for your support! Thanks for the letters Eric, Mom, Mark, and Will! 
Con amor,

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