Thursday, August 6, 2015
Sorry I couldn't write you guys yesterday, it was Colombian Independence Day and we had a crazy monsoon hit Arjona, and so the power went out. I am just fine health wise. I am actually working harder than any time in all of my mission. We are having very little success, but I am not phased because I trust in the promise that if I work hard, be obedient, and keep a good attitude, I will see the results with time. I am still in Arjona as District Leader AND Elder Escobar`s trainer. I am learning a lot of patience with Elder Escobar. He is improving, but in very small ways. He is largely the same person that I met 7 weeks ago. I'm excited for Russell Brown's mission call. Tell him something for me: Gordon B Hinckley once said "Every, and I mean EVERY, good thing I have in my life-I can trace back to my decision to serve a full-time mission". I am so proud of the way all the kids are growing, but sad to miss some things like Jack becoming a Man, and Ava excited to start Kindergarten. The schools in America are so much better than Colombia. There are about 10 high schools in Arjona-not because there are enough people to have 10 high schools, rather because the schools take advantage of the system and it is a big business where there are not only school rivalries, but one school tries to compete with another for business. And everyone has their uniforms. I'm glad that Ava is still Cancer free. It is one of the biggest blessings I have ever enjoyed in my life. And I still thank our Heavenly Father that she is OK. Here are 2 great experiences from last week: This has been a pretty great week! Pretty tough with Elder Escobar still, but we are slowly making progress. It all started this Tuesday with a Less Active family that we are visiting that has been Less Active for about 7-8 years. The Gonzalez family. We had a Family Home Evening with them this Last Tuesday, and the Mom has been the main reason why the family members don't go to church. She is very prideful, and has told us that she is in all ways superior to her spouse, who is also a member. Their oldest son invited us to do the FHE. We came, and the son had invited a non-member friend. I shared a video that I had Called "Living Below Your Privileges", where there is a man on a cruise that doesn't take advantage of all the amenities that were all along included in the overall price of the cruise. The family at first didn't get what we were trying to say, so I told them straight up "We have the God-given privilege of having an eternal family, and we don't even go to church, read the scriptures, or pray. We cheat ourselves of so many blessings only because we don't have the courage to act." The message hit the Mom very hard, and she agreed. She humbled herself in this moment. We had a great time with games, and a treat, and more Mormon Messages, and it was a great night! Later in the week, we visited their house and the oldest son told us that it was a very testimony building moment for him because he said that for a moment Elder Escobar seemed to look like one of the first missionaries that taught the family, and I looked like the American missionary that baptized him. The Mom told us that that same night, she had a dream that God was standing in the door of their house and told her "Its time to go back to church." So they did. And finally the greatest experience of the week. The other day we found a young man named Antonio who was baptized about a year ago, but it seems as though the missionaries that baptized him did so without having had taught him very much or keeping good records of him. He came to church, without any sort of invitation from us. We told him in church that we wanted to visit him, so we did. We taught about the Book of Mormon and his daily reading of the Book. In the end of the lesson I asked him to offer the Prayer. Now, it wouldn't normally be a problem for someone. But Brother Antonio has a type of speech/mental impediment that he stutters phrases, and he started the prayer like this "P-P-P-P-P-P-PAD-PAD-RE CE-LE-LEL-PAD-RE-PPPADRE..." He spent about 5 minutes trying to pray but literally couldn't do it. So I felt impressed to tell him that if he had faith and desired a blessing we could give him one. He accepted and we went inside to do it. We gave him a blessing for fluidity of mind and tongue, and that it would not stop him from following God`s commandments. We finished and went back outside to finish with the prayer. He was quiet for a minute and then started "Padre Celestial...Te damos gracias...Te Pedimos...en el Nombre de Jesucristo, Amen." Without stuttering once. And afterwards he did not have any problem talking, and asked when we would be back. It was one of the coolest moments of my mission. Anyways, I am thinking about buying a really cool personalized scripture case for my Book of Mormon, that the mission does. Its leather and they do your name and a picture from the Gospel art collection, and a scripture on the back! So, Ill let you guys know how it goes! Until next week, I love you guys so much!
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
This week was pretty good in some ways and not so great in others. Today we find out if there are transfers for us or not. But, Something really cool from this week, (to fore mention, I use drawing a lot in lessons because I feel like I am tangibly allowing people to look into my mind and literally see the spirit working with us. When I feel the spirit-I draw it out for an investigator) is that Wilminton told me: "You have 2 gifts from God. You teach very well, and especially your drawing." I told him thank you, and he asked me a question "Do you know what gift means?", and then he responded his same question "It is different from a talent. A talent is not something that can be used to glorify God. And your drawings have helped me understand my Savior and learn of his doctrine." It was awesome! But, my "son" has been very jealous and a little bit proud this week: and he said to Wilminton right after "Ha, that`s nothing compared to my gift. I am a computer genius. I know a LOT about computers." It was a very embarrassing moment. Another cool experience was an exchange with Elder Effio (because I need to be doing exchanges every week). He told me that he is still struggling feeling the spirit, so I taught how to feel and recognize the spirit and I told him to inform me every time during the day that he felt the spirit. And I myself felt the spirit pulling me to a certain house, but we were pressed for time and so we passed it. After about 5 minutes of walking I told him that we could not afford to pass up on spiritual impressions. So we walked back. And contacted the house. It turns out that it is a part member family, whom one of the members is a schizophrenic Less Active woman that really needed a visit, and was very happy to see us. It was a good teaching learning opportunity for me and Elder Effio. My landlord got scared because the church stopped paying him, and so he told me "No, don't go! I will get a guy to clean up the bats!" But President Searle gave him 4 chances to clean it already, and finally told him we would be moving. So I told him "That`s great that you are cleaning up for your next tenants." He was not very happy, but grudgingly sent a guy to clean up our house. The dude has a plastic garbage bag filled with dead bats in 2 hours, but our house still has bat crap everywhere. But we have made the best out of the situation, I made a "Gringo" breakfast the other day for the 4 of us that consisted in pancakes, syrup, eggs, bacon, and milk and lemonade. It was awesome, and we have grown really close as a district. I also ordered pizza from a super cheap high class pizza place here in Arjona, and we were inside the place-so I ordered for myself. And Elder Escobar didn`t order anything, so I assumed that he wasn't hungry. I got my food and he said to the waitress "Where is my food?!" She said that he hadn't ordered anything. "Why didn't you order my food?!" He said to me. I told him when the waitress went to another table "Because you were right there and could do it yourself--I am not your Mom." He ordered his food, and after daily planning an hour later told me "It was pretty selfish and prideful of you back there. You also could have just shared your food with me and not make me pay for something." I took it like a man, because I have been through worse (Elder Giron and Elder Puchoc) and told him that the next time I would be more thoughtful of his feelings than my delicious Hawaiian pizza. He did not like that. I have been reading like a fiend Jesus the Christ when I ran across a part that is special to me: When Jesus is asked by his Mom to help get wine for a wedding that she was directing, Christ said "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come." Woman, as applied by a son to his mother may sound to our ears somewhat harsh, if not disrespectful, but is actually an expression of opposite import (According to "the Life of Christ" it meant the queenliest, or the highest of all womanly royalty). To every son the mother ought to be preeminently the woman of women; she is the one woman in the world to whom the son owes his earthly existence; and though the title "Mother" (side note from me-interesting that he says that mother is not a nickname, but rather a title) belongs to every woman who has earned the honors of maternity, yet to no child is there more than one woman whom by natural right he can address by that title of respectful acknowledgement...When Christ hung in dying agony upon the cross, He looked down upon the weeping Mary, his mother, and said "Woman (my queen) behold thy son!" Can it be thought that in this supreme moment, our Lord`s concern for his mother from whom he was about to be separated by death was associated with any emotion other than that of honor, tenderness, and love? (side note from me--even in his dying moments he was not embarrassed or ashamed or scared to acknowledge his Mother as someone of esteem and family). Page 144 Jesus the Christ It sounds like Jack had an awesome day! I know that all the boy`s at one time or another have wanted a Gecko, and it surprised me that you guys finally decided to do it! He looks like a little guy, and really cute! I wish Jack a very happy birthday! Eleven Reasons why Elder Manwaring Loves Jack 1. He is very intelligent. Too intelligent. 2. He is very attentive to problems and can solve them very quick, sometimes with a hug. 3. He is willing to try new things even though it scares him. 4. Jack is spiritually mature and is a supremely advanced and endowed spirit child of God. 5. He is reserved, but reflects what is going around him. 6. He has a quick and powerful long term memory. 7. He eats very little, so I can steal food from his plate. 8. He is a very caring person, and gets scared for their well-being 9. He is obedient to the right authority. 10. He is respectful to others and gains their confidence early. 11. He is skinny, so his hugs hurt, but in a good way where I wouldn't mind getting hurt whenever for a big hug from Jacky Boy! Have a great week, I will talk to you guys next week! Love You all!
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
This week was like a recovery week, we got right back into proselyting, and we have been working really hard. We are living in the living room of the other missionaries, in their small apartment. We moved out of the other apartment because of the bat problem. This week was very good, but it has been a week of a lot of growing up. My companion is getting worse socially, and has fallen asleep in a few lessons. He has also made a lot of comments that are pretty funny too...we were practicing English, in the conditional tense and he told me "If I could rob a bank or a bakery, I would rob the bakery." I lost a lot of excitement and work ethic while I was so sick for those few weeks, and I was feeling very sad starting this week. I realized that like Gordon B Hinckley, I needed to rededicate myself to my mission. I did a self inventory and realized that the root of this problem was in my personal commitment to honor my baptismal covenant. I was failing most in the part "Remember Jesus Christ always". There is a quote, I believe by Robert Frost that goes "A man will become what he thinks about all day." I was thinking more about the rush and state of busy-ness that we were in that I had forgotten what Jesus Christ has asked of us "What manner of men ought ye to be? I say unto you, even as I am." (3 Nephi 27:27). I became that type of person, and was not acting as a LOVING servant of Jesus Christ. I Decided to focus myself more in this part of my baptismal covenant and everything has changed. I decided to start reading "Jesus the Christ" by James E Talmage (I`m pretty sure that besides the book of Mormon it is one of the most inspired readings I have ever read in my life, I love it so much), I filled the spiritual craving that I had, but I haven't been satisfied, I have read about 10 chapters already, and my study of the Book of Mormon and The Bible have augmented too. I cant remember a time this week when I was not thinking about Christ or an aspect of his life. Also I had another pretty cool experience this week: We also received a Less Active referral to visit a non-member family. And we couldn`t have come at a better time. The family consists of a Mom (Kelly) who has a 15 year old daughter with a type of cancer that the future isn't looking too good. Her spouse left her a few days back for another woman. Kelly lives in a small concrete living room where they have partitions made with blankets. She supports alone her daughter, a 14 year old son, and her 86 year old mother by making lunches and selling it door to door. She has to travel a lot to Cartagena for medical visits and their living conditions are very poor for the low immune system daughter named Maria Jose. I remember well the process of Ava`s cancer treatment and how the gospel affected our lives for the better, and I talked with the mom. I remember how hard it was to feel happy and hopeful, and laugh...so I helped them out a bit there :). She said that it was the first time they had laughed as a family in about 3 weeks, and that she felt a very beautiful feeling enter in her house as we testified that families can be together forever. She and her daughter accepted a baptismal date, it was a great experience. I don`t know if I`m allowed to read it in the mission, but I want to read "The Miracle of Forgiveness", "The Infinite Atonement", "The Great Apostasy (James E Talmage)", "Articles of Faith (James E Talmage)", and finally "Day of Defense" but I believe Day of Defense is to combat other Churches doctrine, so I will read it after the mission. For now I am deep into the Book of Mormon for my 6th or 7th time and Jesus the Christ. Something cool, is that we Printed out some fotos of Temples as a District to show our Investigators their future goal. I printed out the following for me: Provo Templenacle, Provo, Bountiful (one of my all time favorites), Las Vegas (I am sealed to my family in that temple), Bogotà Colombia!, San Diego (I think I want to be sealed there), and Laie Hawaii. I am so excited to go to the temple after my mission, because I feel like I need to learn and follow more closely my covenants that I have made there as well. We will be moving into a new house this week, and It has been pretty cool talking people down in prices and looking all over town for our new apartment. I feel like Mom, because she is pretty good at that kind of stuff. And also Dad, I feel much more respect for you, because we gave a lesson on the Family Proclamation to a family. The Dad was being very irresponsible and drinking and spending all the families money on Poker and was hurting his good, humble wife. So I gave them a good hard talking to. He tried to use the excuse that "Eve was a help meet for Adam." I gave him a hard talking back when I said "Not a single part of the Bible says: The duty of the man is to watch Futbol all day while drinking their Aguila (Colombian beer) while the woman cooks and cleans. A help meet for man means that she was equaled to Adam in every aspect and capability and that they were perfectly and divinely matched to be the compatible base for the entire human race." That shut him up pretty quick so I kept going "During my childhood and time in my house, I never, Not ONCE saw my Dad come home from a full work day, throw himself onto the couch and ask "Where is my food, woman?", He came home and shared responsibility and duty completely with my Mom, and that is the reason why they never accepted failure in the house." He is a gruff, tattooed, tall man, who was a little buzzed while we talked to him, but he was on the verge of tears. He calmed down and went to sleep in another room, and the spirit abided with us that night. I am beyond thankful for what you guys provided for me, I am the man I am because I had 18 years to try and imitate my wonderful parents. Here's to an eternity more :D!
This week has been pretty tough. I got out of one illness and another started. Out of the frying pan, and into the fire. This Wednesday I woke up with pain in my right testicle, I studied with my companion and we ended up calling the Health Secretary because the pain got a lot worse and it swelled up to about 3 times its normal size. They told me to go to Cartagena where they diagnosed me with an Epidydimus infection, and sent me home. It has since gotten better, but it has been a very painful week (I couldn't walk for about 3 days, and I was in bed), they were worried that it was something called Varicosela, that I was going to lose my testicle. It has been a hard week. Antonio didn't get baptized, because he is very nervous, but passed his interview and will be baptized very soon. The real miracle this week has been Wilminton: The other week Hermano Wilminton told us he had a few doubts and questions about the doctrine. He has been reading The Book of Mormon, the Bible, and Principles of the Gospel (Principios del Evangelio) together every night. Among other doubts He told us that he didn´t beleive that God had a body of flesh and bones and that God cant appear to man. I studied hard to answer those questions and the time came to resolve his doubts, I felt the spirit guide us and I didn't end up using what we had planned. We decided that transfiguration was required to have a experience seeing God, so the first doubt was resolved. As for the second he was pretty stubborn, until I had a quick little inspiration from the spirit. I told him "Do you beleive that God is omnipotent?" he responded of course. I told him that God would be a limited God if He didn't have a body, and that if He didn't have a perfect glorified body He would be limited too. He understood and said in the next moment that there was not any doctrine that we had that was not true, that he was ready to be baptized (he asked me if he could be baptized the same day!) And he told us in another visit that he could not deny it any longer, that the Book of Mormon was the word of God an equal to the Bible. This was a big step because at first he rejected the Book of Mormon, and wouldn't read it. He fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:16-19 as he put the Bible in one hand and the Book of Mormon in the other and then put them in one hand and said "This the true word of God." Really, it is the written word that helps these people and we just stand back and watch the spirit testify of the rest! We had another rescue: Luzmerry Torres who now is planning on going to the temple and is going to have a calling soon! We really helped her change her life! Mom, I have so much more respect for you now, because I am practically my companion`s mom. He has never lived alone ever, and even though I have been in pain all this week I still had to do ALL the cooking and cleaning. Bleh. I am having a very rough time in my mission right now, and I am just waiting for the trials to pass to work towards my potential again. On another note, I don't know if you guys can look up Ciprofloxacin, because its the medicine I am taking and I think it has given me crazy emotions. I have had times this week where I said I was a little tired and as I was sitting down in a chair or bed I fell asleep for 2 hours. Other times I went to my room and shut the door and quietly cried for long periods of time and felt very alone. Other times I have gotten mad, and other times very happy and joke-y. I'm trying to control it the best I can, but it has been a very hard week. Also, our house has bats living between the roof and the ceiling, that are crapping all over the place and the ceiling panels, when they are shaken by bats leaves "bat powder" everywhere. President told me that this is extremely dangerous and I have had to talk with my landlord lots of times, but he is always drunk. I have had to verify with him that he was going to fix the Bat problem but never has-so we are feeling pretty trapped. Another note on the house-air conditioning doesn't exist here in Colombia practically. Another-the poor neighborhoods here have figure out how to steal the power to the "rich" houses, so we have been living in the night in the pitch black, with fans that don't work, and the house smells like bat poo and it is very hot, and our refrigerator leaks out and spoils the food because the power usually is out for about 8-24 hours at a time. This time in my mission I have learned to endure some stuff, but I am happy because Arjona has made me the way I am spiritually. Anyways, I hope you guys are well and enjoying the summer! I know I sure am (Summer 24/7 for 2 years).
So this week I have been pretty sick. Especially these past 3 days or so. I have had a high fever and a sinus infection and trouble breathing because of lung pain. And last night I slept 1 hour, and at 2 in the morning I woke up and went to the bathroom and had nonstop diarrhea for 1 hour. So it has been a hard week. I have been praying that Heavenly Father can make me an adequate trainer and District Leader, because sometimes I don't feel that way. This week, we didn't really have too many experiences because we were in meeting pretty much the whole week. But I received some great compliments. The first was in a meeting with the Presidents Assistants and they told me that my Area book is well known in Cartagena and Valledupar for being one of the most well done, neat, and diligent in the mission. Pretty sweet! Another, was in a multi-Zone meeting, I was invited to teach how to do a weekly planning session because I developed my own way of doing it that is faster, neater, and all around more efficient. Word got around to the President and he asked me to teach it. Wow! Another time, was while Elder Effio was teaching the Sunday School class on the Scriptures he said that he never gained a real love for the scriptures until he was my companion, and he said "I don't know of another missionary or member in general who loves the Book of Mormon more than Elder Manwaring." How cool is that? And also I had my interview with President Searle a few days ago, and he read me the analysis of me, that My zone leaders wrote, they said "The most humble North American we have come to know in the mission." So those parts of my week were pretty good! Hope you guys have a really great week, and continue to live what you believe, ask the kids what they think a testimony is, and if they think they have one. And help them be future missionaries! There is not a greater joy than that of missionary work!