Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New Companion and such...‏

My Guajira Indian Shirt... Last district going Bowling... My new Companion, Elder Effio... I am still here in Arjona, but my previous companion got transferred to Cartagena! I am free! Everything is going pretty good. It's been a crazy last transfer, and was pretty tough with Elder Puchoc. He taught me a lot about humility, tolerance and compassion. I have changed so much in the last Transfer, I wouldn't change the experience I had for anything. I learned more about myself and my weaknesses in this last month than any other. I am now the Senior Companion, and things are much more tranquillo. We work really hard, about 10 lessons per day, but we also enjoy each others company. My new companion is awesome, and he likes to talk a lot in lessons. Elder Effio is Peruvian also (3rd in a row) but lived in Argentina for the last 6 years. He is a recent convert of almost 2 years. Very nice guy! He is a lot like Nick, he does some things a little funny because he is still a very new member, but he is very concerned for the welfare of others. But we will be great companions now that I have learned much more of humility. I'm doing really good, I feel like we are taking on the Bishop's duties (because our Bishop isn't coming to church always), and so all of his duties get passed on to us. So we are a little stressed out, but I have never gotten to know Jesus Christ more than I am now (with the exception of little Ava). Recently a member who served his mission in Cali told me "If I could go back to the mission, I would use the power that God gave me more fully. I would call groups of 100 people to repentance, because I have God on my side." It made me think "What am I doing with Gods power?" We left their house, and we walked past an open air bar/really loud music place. I had the strong feeling to stop and call the group to repentance as though God was saying This is your chance! So, I followed Dad's example from his mission and called an entire bar to repentance. It was a very brave moment in my life, as there were about 50-60 people in the bar getting really drunk. I introduced myself and my companion, explained what we do, and invited them to repent and change their lives. We then gave out ALL of our pamphlets of repentance and the Word of Wisdom with our names and numbers on the back. Mission Accomplished :D It was pretty sweet. Something interesting with Erlinda is that we gave her a blessing of health because she got pretty sick. When I did the first part of the blessing the house and everything outside when silent, and there was a strong power that dominated the room. My companion Elder Effio gave the second part and it was also very powerful. The Mom said after "That was a prayer of Faith." Something very, very weird for her to say since she is anti-mormon. We came back the second time during the week, and the Mom said that "it was thanks to the blessing, that Erlinda is healing very rapidly", and she accepted the Baptism for this Saturday! I was district leader for 3 days, but President Searle took all of the other missionaries out of Arjona so I am in charge of the personal salvacion of ALL of Arjona and Las Piedras. I inherited all of their Invesigatores, Less Actives, And Recent Converts. We are very busy with running two areas and two pueblos. I am very lost in their area, and this week has been really tough, but I am trying to be patient because I know the lord blesses those who trust in Him. I love you all so much, and am so proud of the progress I hear from my awesome siblings.You are the best parents an Elder could have. ALL of the parents of my companions are separated and it makes me appreciate you guys so much in my life! I pray for you guys daily and nightly and hope you are all reading your scriptures. I am almost done reading the Book of Mormon for the 4th time. I believe in the Bible but hardly ever use it, but I've read it once now in the mission. But the Book of Mormon is the key to a rock solid testimony and Family!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Floods and Rescues

Another week down! We had a storm yesterday. Like, a real, tropical thunderstorm and the streets flooded over, and the trees fell over, with naked kids running wild in the streets. This week was a little bit tough. We found out that Erlinda's Mom is anti-mormon and she had the main Pastor of Arjona ready for us in our first visit this week. All he did was argue nonstop until we found out that he (the principal Catholic Pastor of all of Arjona) hardly believes in God or Jesus Christ or Prophets or anything. We bore testimony and all he could do was remain silent for about 3 minutes straight. Erlinda didn't get baptized this week because her Mom forced her not to. Pray for her! We also had 3 Less Actives that we "rescued". Its like baptizing them all over again. We taught 258 lessons and committed 124 people to baptism this last 6 weeks. We led the mission again for people coming to church and Rescues. Wow! Tell Nate that you guys should cook something Colombian, and give it in class. I learned this week to make Patacones which are crushed fried plantains (salted). Also deditos and empanadas are really common in the streets. We also made concrete blocks for about 3 hours, and it was the most exhausting work of my life. Literally, we were wiped out and sore for all this week. But we did it for a man who wasn't making enough for his family to not work Sundays. He came to church with all of his family and they will all be baptized this coming month, after their wedding which we are planning. I have learned to gain Christ-like attributes more in this last month than most of my mission. I have also grown an immense love for the scriptures, which I hope to carry all of my life! I don't have much time! But Know that I love you all, and pray for you often!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Humility and Work

This week I have rededicated myself to a new level of missionary work. I am trying to be more humble. It started with simply telling God in my prayers that in everything that we have accomplished the glory was His. We started having more success. We had a record high 50 lessons and we are now leading the mission for lessons taught in a week, lessons taught with a member, investigators attending church, and Less Actives attending church also. God did it all, we just walked and opened the door for the spirit to enter into these peoples homes.This week was better. My companion and I are realizing our weaknesses and growing a lot as a team in Christ. "We have worked many mighty miracles in this land for which we will praise HIS name forever" -Alma 26:12. The mission scripture of Elder Manwaring. First experience of this week, we met up with a family of investigators that recently lost their job and their Daughter got sick with Dengue Fever. It got very serious to the point where she was shaking in the hammock in their living room and screaming in pain. The family did not have enough money to buy food, let alone the required medicine for her fever. I remembered a scripture, when Peter and the other Apostles entered the temple where a man was begging for money. Peter said that he didn't have money, but what he DID have, he would give. He gave him a Priesthood Blessing, and the stricken man "leaped" from where he was seated. The Lord did the same in that small concrete living room for that little girl. We gave her a blessing, and she fell asleep after having been awake for more than a day straight in pain. We gave the lesson, and when we left she had no evidence of any type of sickness, and hasn't had symptoms afterwards. Christ lives, and He works miracles. I am happy to say that I am a witness to both. Later in the week, we met up with an investigator named Erlinda. We asked her if she had read the chapter in the Book of Mormon that we had left her. She had read all of the assignments that we had left previously, and so it wasn't a surprise when she said that she did, just a little. Well, she did read. We left Alma 39. She read 38-42, and marked up all the pages! She explained that she just couldn't get herself to stop! She explained that recently she had lost a friend, and had a couple of questions for God. She read Alma 40 by accident, but knew that it wasn't "by accident". She said that God was answering her questions. She had her third church attendance this Sunday, and will be baptized this Saturday.Pray for her! She is awesome! :D This week I had an intercambio (exchange) with a newbie Elder and I had the feeling to skip a planned lesson and visit a straw hut as we passed by it. We entered into the backyard of a house to get to the hut, and we talked with the family there. One of the girls is deaf. The Mom almost got baptized 2 years ago, and the Dad is inactive. I felt as though the spirit led me to the house. I had never seen it before, but I walked straight to it as though I were not in charge of my own body. It was a cool experience. I'm glad that the pizza was awesome! I miss real pizza. The pizza here is crap. But at least we have salchipapas (the reason I am now fat :) have lost my six-pack, gained about 20-25 pounds, I am 2 inches taller than the last time you guys saw me, and so yeah. I have never enjoyed working so hard, and the time is flying by! I hope that work is going well for you guys and you are reading scriptures together. You guys should make it really fun, make the verses come alive, and it will become a part of their lives. I wish I had developed my testimony of the Book of Mormon better before my mission. Now I know it like the back of my hand! Tell me if Lauren decides to go on a mission. If she does tell her to study Chapter 10 of Preach my Gospel. And daily scripture study. And tell me where the guys in the ward are going on their missions. Lauren and Nick are making gigantic leaps in their lives, and I am proud of them. Hope all is well in Zion. We are building it here in Arjona. I love you all more than any language can express.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Semana Santa‏/Easter

This week was a little better than the last. The people here do not really celebrate Easter. They celebrate Semana Santa. Holy Week. It is really just an excuse for everyone to get really drunk. And in every house they make "dulce". Which is paste, like a consistency of Peanut Butter, but made of straight up sugar and whatever they can find around the house. Dulce de: Arroz, guandú, Ñame, Mango, Papaya (crap), Leche and so on. We also watched General Conference (the first time ever that Arjona had it broadcasted in the chapel), but just about every talk had lots of pauses due to internet issues. I got very sick and vomited during the Saturday Session (Because of all the Dulce). I heard those who opposed the Prophet which makes me sad that some people cannot follow the prophet. we can see the consequences of not following the prophet through the scriptures. This week was pretty good. I had an interview with President and Sister Searle and I felt a lot better about my outlook on missionary service and companionship. I read the chapters of Alma 59-61 that Presidente Searle asked me to. He told me that I will need to suffer with pacience just like Pahoran suffered with Moroni. It was powerful to see two strong leaders see past their differences and unite to defend what mattered most to them. There is a talk that I read from years back that said something to the effect of: if you don't love someone it is because you have not served them enough. I said to myself at first, "I serve my companion everyday!" But I tried even harder to serve him. I am still the happier missionary of us two. I realized that my companion maybe isn't enjoying his mission very much. We got along better this week. While things aren't perfect, I am enjoying my mission more than ever. I studied my Patriarchal Blessing, and two words found within it: Compassion and Tolerance, is what I need to gain to be an effective companion. I have put it into practice and we are steadily becoming more united to defend what matters most to God. The Famlily. This conference was centered on the family and I wanted to know what I could do now to have a strong spouse and family in the future. The guidance of church leaders is the best remedy for wanting to improve, and now I know what I can do to change. We decided to spontaneously put aside our plans for this last Friday, because I felt very strongly that we should visit a town that is pretty far from where we live, and work there. This town had never heard of the church nor even seen a missionary! The whole town seemed to want to talk to us! We programmed 9 people for baptism, and all of them attended church together, along with about 6 or 7 more people that they had invited! We had 20 investigatores listening to the words of a Prophet! One in every 6 people there in the Arjona ward building was an invesigator! They enjoyed conference and a ward lunch and it really brought the ward family together. After conference, my companion and I visited a family of young converts and their parents. We taught the message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We had their attention well captivated and they had several great questions. The spirit was strong in the house. We asked the Dad to give the closing prayer. We all kneeled down and he started praying. He asked if the Church was true and if Joseph Smith was a prophet. As he did I felt as though the room had changed, even though I didnt open my eyes to see. It was just us in the room, but it felt to me as though there was a loving presence in the center of the circle as he prayed. He ended the prayer and one of his children said "I think that Jesus Christ was here. Just for a couple of seconds. I felt like there was a light in the middle of us as we prayed." The Mom immediately said "You felt it too? I knew that there was something in the middle of the circle, and it was bright and warm!" The Dad also felt it, and described the peace he felt after. They were all very emotional, as was I :). They told us as we left "We have felt a little portion of the light every time you guys come. But now we felt the whole thing." I told them that even THAT is a small portion of the spirit we will feel with God in his kingdom. A very powerful experience. I hope you guys had a really great Easter and ANNIVERSARY! Woo hOO! You guys look awesome with the temple in the background. Literally no one is married here, much less sealed in a temple. They do not go on dates. They do not show affection to their children, and so their children grow up to be adults quick. So they are noisy, drinking, and crazy young adults. I appreciate more than ever what you guys have done for me, because I never felt like you guys didn't love me! Thanks for all you do! 20 years compared to La eternidad, only a small portion of the adventures you guys will have together!I want my siblings to focus on things that matter and not miss me so much! I have thought a lot about you guys this week, I am really proud to be your son and represent two names... the name of my Savior Jesus Christ and my last name of Manwaring. Two names that have influenced my life! I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father that watches out for us. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that he died for us. The two experiences in my life so far that testify of this was watching Ava battle cancer, and being on my mission and witnessing people every day reject Christ, as well as those who embrace Him. As the hymn says "Oh it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me." I really am having the best mission a missionary could ever have. Happy Anniversary! Thanks for being the best parents ever!

March 30, 2015

Neither one of Domingo or Alejandra got baptized this week, because where Alejandra lives there was an assassination and all of this week the neighborhood is on lockdown. There are people walking around with machetes, and there is a hired gang with assault rifles that look and talk like the Pirates in "Captain Phillips" walking around that wont let the people leave. With Domingo, there were thieves in his neighborhood and he was robbed. His daughter also was recently found on the streets: a drug addict, who is pregnant. And so he was in Cartagena where the daughter is receiving medical attention. With my companion things were going well. But now our situation is identical to when Buzz Lightyear (me) came to Andy's (Elder Puchoc) room the first day. Elder Puchoc has been in Arjona for 6 months, and knows all the members. I came in, with new ideas, desires to work, and a personality that gets along with the ward well. Needless to say it was a rough week, and I, for the first time in about 5 months or so missed home. I love the work, and realized that the Savior felt more alone than I ever have when his own apostles abandoned and denied him, and all of the world (who he served all of his life) hated him. And yet he died even for them. "They know not what they do." This week was great in the lessons however! To start off we had an experience of success here in Arjona. We met up with a less active guy named Samir. When we walked into the house he had the TV in the doorway and was watching a pornographic video. We immediately turned our backs to the door and asked him to turn it off. He did, and we started up a lesson about the Law of Chastity. We didn't know it, but he is addicted, crazily addicted to Pornography. We talked about the commandment, and he understood. Afterwards we created a plan of Addiction Recovery. And after, I asked him to find all the videos in his house that had this garbage. He searched all of his house, and after 10 minutes had found about 50 DVDs worth of it. I told him, "As missionaries, we have not come to bother or frustrate the natural man...we have come to kill it." And we asked him to break the DVDs and throw it away. The spirit came back to the house as we broke Satan´s plan in that living room (with his permission). We met up with him 2 days later, and he said that he hasn't watched anymore and had an interview with the Bishop to prepare for a mission. :D Another experience we had was with an inactive woman that hasn't been responsive to the lessons. She just kinda sits there, and doesn't like to participate. And her understanding of the lessons is low despite our efforts. We decided to find more of her "necesidad". After a few minutes and questions, She revealed to us that her husband beat her and left her without notice. I knew that the "necesidad" extended farther than just that. After some more questions she started crying really hard and said "I don't know why I am still living. I don't do anything all day. My life doesn't have a purpose. And I am waiting to die." She is 45 years old. We taught a special lesson about the Atonement and the talk by Jeffery R Holland called "Totalmente Solo". She was crying hard the whole lesson, and said that she hadn't felt the spirit like that in about 5 years. It was a beautiful experience! I am glad that Lauren got asked to Prom! I regret that I never did, but its great that Lauren has that experience. And Sam is a good dude. Tell him that I approve of Laurens date ;). I'm also glad that everything went so well for Nick in the play! I remember some of his first ones, and they were powerful performances! I want him to continue doing it so that I can watch some plays from him when I get back! And congratulations to you Mom for the ASL test! I hope you can jump back into it very well! We will do Skype on Mother's day! I already have it planned to call you guys that day :). Hope everything goes well with the family this week! Read the scriptures as a family every night. It is what sets us apart from the world, because many other religions are not acquainted with their own doctrine. But not a Latter Day Saint. The work goes on! Love you all so much!