Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Happy Week!‏

Day of Stake Conference! Me with a smallish Cat with a smallish amigo at my side. This week was great! One of the best that I have had in a long time! We got to hear from two General Authorities this week, one of which is Elder Godoy from Brazil that gave a talk in Portuguese in October General Conference last year. It was awesome! He said that the reason we are in the mission is firstly to learn from our Mission President and his wife. It's awesome because I think my mission Parents are both very spiritually powerful people, just like my Mom and Dad. Anyway, I had a great experience this week, that made me feel like you (Dad) were right there with me: This week we had two exchanges, one with my Zone Leader and one with a newbie. But when my companion and I were together we had some very great spiritual experiences! First off, I remember when you told me how on your mission you found a kid by the street whose bike chain had broken. You knew how to fix it, and sent the kid on his way. Afterwards, you guys contacted a nearby apartment building, and if I remember right not a single person let you guys in except for an older lady and her family because they saw what you had done for the boy in the street. Lots of them were baptized. This Friday I had a similar experience when I saw a boy in the street with his broken bike. It was very dark outside and we were in a very dangerous part of our Area called Cara Perro. I had been taught by you how to fix various parts of a bike, and we helped him get back home. His Grandparents were anxiously awaiting him, and when we came his Grandpa started to cry a little. "I knew this day would come again." he said. We found out that he was an inactive member from Tolima, Colombia that hadn't gone to church in about 10 years. He was waiting for the missionaries to find him and get his life out of the gutter. We taught them and the boy, they accepted baptismal dates, and he wants to come back to church. He told us it was the best day he has had in 10 years. Wow! Dad, thanks for being such an example to me, of how a missionary should be! I am proud to say that you are my Dad, and hope that I can pass on our mission legacy to my own sons! After this experience we went to the home of a family that is very special to me. We taught about baptism and they are so happy, waiting for the day when they can actually do it! We asked the daughter (who will be baptized this Saturday) who she wanted to baptize her. She is awesome because she reads to her parents from the Book of Mormon every day, she prays often, and she has walked about 2 miles to church (without her parents) with her one year old sister in arms. And she is only 10 years old! She picked me even though she can't pronounce my name well, and it was such a great feeling, because I really love that family so much! And right after that we went home, but we didn't have keys to the house. We were locked out and had to call the owner of the house to bring the keys and let us in our own house. But he came, and helped us in. He was about to leave, when he stopped, came back and asked us "What do you guys preach?" I told him that we preach repentance. He told us he was tired of his life: he is divorced, is a heavy drinker every night, sleeps during the day, and has various girlfriends. He asked us "You guys wouldn't happen to have some sort of a program for a person like me, would you?" We gave him The Word of Wisdom pamphlet and we are excited to teach him the Tuesday! The other day we gave out a Pamphlet of the Plan of Salvation to an uninterested woman. Her husband found it, and decided to attend church the next morning. He quickly found out that we were all going to Cartagena for Stake Conference, and he asked if he could come too. He went all the way to Cartagena, and sat with us. He was crying so hard afterwards, and he hugged us and said "This is what I have been searching for all my life! It wasn't by accident that this pamphlet came into my hands!" We visited him a few hours later in his house. He had soda and crackers ready for us, he had cleaned his house, and invited all his family to listen. We taught the Restoration and the whole family accepted a baptismal date! Wow! His name is Wilminton. I am glad that you guys are reading the book of Mormon together. If you are in Helaman 12 you will soon be reading a verse that I like a whole lot. Helaman 13:38, it says that we should not search for happiness where we know we cannot find it. In 2 Nephi 2:26 it says that we were made to have joy. But there is a difference between joy and excitement. Someone can feel excited doing drugs, but its temporary. There is no use for temporary things because we are not temporary things. Joy is something that l a s t s. We search out joy in daily family scripture study, sharing the gospel with the neighbors, doing FHE, going to church, paying tithing. Its the reason, Mormons are so happy!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Go to the Rescue

The road to Las Piedras. This is a fried stuffed potato, they are delicious! My companion after tasting Noni Juice. My pants that were waaay to big for me before my mission. Me with a Loro in a Family home evening yesterday! This week really has been great! Elder Effio continues to progress leaps and bounds, and we are really good friends here in the mission, which is awesome because I haven't had a whole lotta luck with companions until him! We visited a Recent Convert named Maria and we had Family home evening there. They have a big forest for a back yard so we had a fire, I brought cookies and soda, and we had a great message prepared. Well news spread like a wildfire that the Mormons were in the neighborhood, and that they had food. Where Maria lives it is extremely poor, so food is short in these houses. A group of about 30-40 kids from the neighborhood showed up. These kids were very skinny, some malnourished, and their clothes were pretty worn. They are from a very backwards culture where it is acceptable and encouraged to yell, swear, and all that. So we did the family home evening, but it was so irreverent that we could not even say one word. My companion got so frustrated that he refused to talk or help me out when I asked. I controlled the situation saying that I was going to throw the cookies into the fire of everyone who talked out of turn, and it worked! They were quiet! It was pretty funny because we have another convert named Francisco who taught a small lesson to all the kids about how to pray. He started with a question "how many of you kids love God?" "ME!!!" all of them replied. "Good, now shut up and listen to what I have to say." is what he said next. I was almost crying because I was laughing so hard. It was a very costeƱo way of saying Pay Attencion :) Also I wanted to see if you can send me the recipe for the chocolate caramel crackers. I have been craving them badly, and wanting to make them for Family Home Evening here. Ava is so cute, with her cute hair and the things she likes to do, and say! This week we did not visit a single investigator, not even one. We searched out as many Less Actives as we could. President Monson has asked us to "Go to the Rescue", and we took it very literally this week, as we found about 25-30 less actives, and found out what has been holding them back for so long. One lady named Luzmerry hadn't gone to church in about 10 years, and we found her house by accident, searching for another less active. We gave a small, but very powerful lesson. She said that she was feeling the spirit again while we taught...but that it was not her time to come back to the church. I told her that we do not choose our "time" to do anything in the Church. If it were different, God would not have picked a 14 year old boy to be the Prophet of the Restauracion. He would not pick 18 year old young men to serve missions. He would not allow normal people with obvious flaws to run the only true and living church on the face of the Earth. He picks these people because he understands their potential to grow every day. I told her that Christ remembers and keeps watch over his sheep, that he carefully plans the way he will bring them back to his fold. She was very emotional, and it was a beautiful experience. We taught her and her daughter the Restauracion later in the week. Her daughter accepted a baptismal date AND...(drumroll please)...THEY CAME TO CHURCH THIS SUNDAY! ¡Que Felicidad! And they loved every minute of it! Among other Less Actives we met a woman who wont go to church because she blesses the sacrament in her own house, a woman who is a pastor in another church that teaches some gospel principles in her church, about 6 women who left the church because of one lady in the church, one that thought he had to pay tithing every Sunday even when he didn't have work, a woman who said that the bishop stopped giving them food after 2 or 3 years of living off the Bishops Store House and she didn't want to get a job, and others who simply didn't get visited by missionaries or members. But we had 16 Less Actives come to church, and 10 investigators. And I taught the Gospel Doctrine class for the first time, it was awesome! Anyways, I love you all and pray for your success in everything! Have a great week filled with the Spirit, and get to know the neighbors with the missionaries.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Being Led

Elder Puchoc, A Tuteca on my Plaque, Ma Shoe, Ma Canon, Cartagena de Indias Skyline, My companion and I in Cartagena... It was awesome talking with you guys yesterday too! Everyone looks so good and happy! President Searle took the other missionaries out of our area because we had more missionaries leave in the last transfer than missionaries that came into the mission, and the "pueblos" are the first to lose missionaries if there is a shortage. Anyway, I am really happy for that small Ava, her voice is still really cute and small but many things are changing for all of the kids and its definitely interesting to see how everyone is growing. I am sleeping really well, and eating well. I feel a little more healthy than I have been in other transfers in the mission. But also I took the Shakira toothpaste 14 day challenge (yesterday was day 7) so maybe, I don't was that Shakira shine! Haha! This week I have had a pretty successful good week! Here are some experiences I have had: This week was awesome because we focused more on the less active members and we have not been thinking very much in investigators. I have been praying for the Lord to place Less Actives in our path so that we can teach them (because there are about 400 less actives in the ward, and none of them have addresses), and I had a great experience of success this week: We were walking home from a neighborhood that is a little bit dangerous, so we don't usually talk to anyone at night there. But as we were walking, for a moment, I felt as though my own footsteps were not mine, and I walked right up to a lady and her child that were going to pass us by in the opposite direction. I didn't know how I got there, and I hadn't wanted to talk to anyone, but there I was. I didn't know what to say, and my mouth was wide open in surprise, so I just said "uhhh...uhh...¿Hola?" and we found out afterwards that she was an inactive member that wants to baptize her children in the church, and return to the church herself! I was so grateful (a little embarrassed at first) that my Heavenly Father literally made us talk with them! Another experience of success is actually a string of experiences. The other Sunday, my companion admitted to me that he doesn't remember the last time he felt the spirit, or if he has even ever felt it. So I made it my goal to pray in every personal prayer for him to gain a testimony and feel the spirit. Wednesday we started our companionship study and I decided to make it centered on how to recognize the Spirit, and I taught him how we feel it. He really grew in that moment. Then, later this week, this Saturday we had 3 very spiritually powerful lessons in a row. He said that those 3 lessons penetrated his heart more than maybe any other, and he said that he has a testimony of what we teach. We were both pretty emotional, and it made us a stronger companionship! We are changing the way we work to include more less actives and less investigators. We have the promise of the Prophet that if we do this, we will have more baptisms. Anyway, I am going to send lots of Fotos after this Email, but I hope you guys have a really great week! Love you mucho!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Having a Good Attitude

Things have been tough this week and we are a little bit stressed out. My companion really is a good guy, he likes to talk A LOT in lessons, but he is a good person and I am privileged to work with him. I can't believe I am already a third of the way done either. I had a dream that it was already time to go home, and it got me in a funk the whole day, because in the dream I felt like I had accomplished nothing as I left Colombia. But It makes me want to work much harder. We had a little bit of a hard time this week, because the Bishop got mad at me in front of the ward council saying that I only work hard for Baptisms and not for Rescues. It is hurtful because I try to work very hard for everyone. Unfortunately we don't have as much time to visit the other area that we inherited, and there are people that are not coming to church. Arjona has been an infamously sinful place in the past with missionaries, and now my companion and I are obligated to clean up the area. We are losing attendance faster than we are gaining it, and the missionaries take the blame. Anyway, we went to Las Piedras again and I had a great experience. It was just me and another member (we did splits) and we met up with a investigator names Miladys (ME-LAW-DEES) and we shared with her the message of the restauracion. She told us that she believes that it is true, she told us that before we shared with her that the same church that existed 2015 years ago exists today she felt something inside of her say "These next 5 minutes will be the most important up to this point in your life." She said she didn't know if Eternal Life existed, let alone that she could participate in it with her family. It was very powerful. We have planned the baptism of Alejandra this week again. But her Mom is what is stopping her from getting baptized. We are going to need all the help we can get, and only our Heavenly Father can give it. With Erlinda, we don't know, because she had her arm operated on, and she gets her stiches taken out this Tuesday, and possibly her baptism this Saturday. She also needs a lot of Prayer for her decision to follow Christ more fully in her life. I really love the people of the coast, but this week has been pretty frustrating for me. I only have one baptism even though I try so hard to be obedient, diligent, and have a good attitude. I know that the mission is not numbers, I know that the worth of ONE soul is great to God (DC 18:10), but I feel like we haven't saved so many souls even though I love them so much, and it makes me so sad to see people that have become my family not want their own Salvation as much as I want it. Or even more importantly: as God wants it. Don't get me wrong, the mission is the best thing that has happened to me, but I don't want to waste it. I want to get lost in it. Anyway, thanks for all your support. It helps me move forward with a better attitude to do my duty as a servant to my Heavenly Father. I love him more than anything. And I love you guys so much. I pray for your continual safety and success in everything.