First of all, Grammie wanted me to mention in my letter home when I got her package, so I want to thank her for that. I will write her a thank you note as well.
This past week has had its ups and downs. Unfortunately, all of our baptismal dates for February have fallen through so that is kind of frustrating. Our Mission President has set forth a mission-wide goal that every companionship baptize a least once a month. I think that goal is very achievable, especially if we are working hard. The thing with a lot of Spanish people is that it is very easy to get them to say they will do something, but actually relying on them to do it is another story. This is especially true for a lot of the single adult males we teach who live in an apartment with ten other guys and just work all day. They love to hear about God and listen to us but even when we lay it all out on the table, be bold, and make it clear that our message is essential to their salvation, it just kind of goes in one ear and out the other (now I know how you guys felt when you tried teaching me). They even believe everything we say, they tell us they will do everything we commit them to but rarely follow through. Fortunately, this class of investigator only makes up about 30% of our teaching pool.
We kind of had some set backs with Angel this week. But we made some really good strides with this 17-year-old girl named Tania, who the missionaries have been teaching since before I even got to this area (I don't know if I told you about her before).
This is what's going with Angel. He is really great and he knows that the church is true. He has shared some experiences with us that are very odd but kind of interesting. For example, sometimes when he sits down to read his scriptures, he gets this very peaceful feeling and then his TV will start making weird noises and going haywire. Sounds kind of creepy to me but as long as he gets the message, I'm fine with it. The thing is, we noticed he hasn't been reading his scriptures as much as he promised us, so we made an effort to try and get to the bottom of why. Turns out he goes out and drinks with his friends on "occasion" and feels guilty about reading the scriptures while he is borracho (drunk). We have already taught him the Word of Wisdom and he knows it is bad to do all of that stuff -- he just says it is a really tough temptation for him to overcome. He is so ready to be baptized other than that one problem, so we are going to try and get him dunked on the 26th to meet the goal our Mission President has set for us. It is going to take a lot of faith and daily contact to prepare him but I know that we can do it. Anyway, I will tell you how that situation is looking next week.
Tania is a 17-year-old girl who is from Mexico but lives with her aunt and goes to high school here in America. I have never heard her speak English so I don't really know how that is working out for her. Anyway, we have been teaching her for a long time and kind of hit a stumbling block with her in that she knew everything was true but wasn't ready to change her life by being baptized. She knew that baptism was necessary but really wasn't willing to take that step. We have been praying for a way to be able to get through to her for a while and have been steadily resolving any doubts that came up. The thing is, she was waiting for some huge answer to the Book of Mormon and that was really her main excuse. We have this woman who is our ward missionary (Sister Mora) who has been fellowshipping her a lot and really helping us out. So this Sunday we had a lesson with Tania, Sister Mora, and her husband after church in the chapel that was so awesome. We taught her about faith and how essential it is for us to receive an answer using Alma chapter 32, and my favorite, Ether 12:6. I was inspired to also talk about how consistency is very key in receiving an answer from God and that we always need to show him that we are humble and diligent. We then found out the problem. She often goes to Mexico for prolonged periods of time and while she is down there, she totally forgets about the church, reading her scriptures, and praying. We told her that the Gospel is true no matter where you are in the entire universe and that God takes that into account when she prays to receive an answer. Referring back to Ether 12:6 which talks about trying or testing your faith, we asked her what some of the ways are that she can put her faith to the test and show God that she is willing sacrifice a little to get an answer. She knew that she needed to go to church in Mexico and continue doing the things that she has been doing here in America. So we committed her to do that and will get the church schedule for her this week for a ward near her house down there. We ended by telling her that a testimony is something that is constantly growing and requires nurturing to become strong and unbreakable. We asked her a series of questions like "do you know the church/Book of Mormon is true?" and other simple things like that, and she told us that she did (as she has before). Then referring back to how she was expecting some huge answer to the Book of Mormon. We said that God has already provided you with this knowledge and testimony that you have but he is waiting for you to do something with that testimony before you receives this massive answer; to show him that you are ready and willing to follow his commandments. We told her the best way to show this is through baptism and BAM!! . . . baptismal date with Tania. YES!!! However, it is in April, nevertheless, this is a very solid one because she always comes to church and is almost done with the Book of Mormon. So that was super sweet. One thing that you need to do as a missionary is not be afraid to promise specific blessings to people and to do it with faith. We are Christ's anointed representatives so we have the authority to facilitate miracles.
Anyway transfers are coming up next Wednesday and it would be really sweet to stay in this area with Elder Ralphs again. We have about 7 baptisms just waiting to happen, but marriage situations are holding them back. We have some success coming up as that all gets sorted out within the next couple of months. I just want to leave you with a scripture that I really like that is found in Ether 12:27 (I love Ether 12). It goes:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
This is so true as a missionary. Whenever I am overly confident in my abilities or think I'm a boss or something, God always humbles me so that I come back to him and repent. On my mission I have seen so many of my weaknesses become stronger, for example my ability to focus even though I have ADD has become so much better. But as always, we can always improve and I still have a ways to go before I am perfect. I hope all is well at home.