Sounds like you all had tons of fun at the cabin! I'm so glad you got to enjoy the new year with the extended family--and with some fun visitors. That's so cool about Steven's mission call to Russia! How exciting! When does he report to the MTC? I missed you all, but we had a great new years down here too!
Our mission president wanted us in our houses by 8:30pm (as opposed to the usual 10pm), so we took advantage of it and had our own little bbq! We found some cement pieces to create a bbq pit, and borrowed a slab of metal from a neighbor for our grill. Oh yeah! It was crazy ghetto, but so delicious! Churripan is my favorite. I don't know if it exists in the US or not. I doubt it... It was the four of us plus two other missionaries from Mulchen (a nearby town) that stayed the night with us. On Tuesday we spent the whole day in our chapel as a zone with the APs (as mandated by President Martinez). It was for a number of reasons that all missionaries stayed inside, but mostly because he knew no real missionary work would get done. So we took advantage of the day to do capacitation and practices and meetings and set goals for the new year. It was a long day, but a fun day. It was very similar to being locked in the MTC again...haha.
One night this week we came home and the water wasn't working in the whole city because there had been roadwork that day and the water had yet to come back on. It had been an extremely hot day and we were dehydrated and exhausted and needed water. Luckily, just a week earlier, I had received a prompting to take some of the used soda bottles we had and clean them and fill them with water. Many thanks to our Lord for the inspired preparation, we had several liters of water to get us through the night (and honestly we didn't know how long we'd be without water). Luckily the water eventually came back on, but it was a sweet tender mercy of the Lord. There's a simple, basic testimony of the importance of heeding the counsel of the prophet to keep a water and food supply to get you through emergencies. I don't care if you're a college student or on a mission or too poor to even pay attention--the prophet speaks for the Lord who has wisely commanded us to be prepared. If the least you can do is a liter of water and some granola bars, do it. You never know what could happen. Be obedient, and the Lord will watch over you. Special thanks to my wonderful parents for teaching me that principle by always having food storage and preparing ahead. Woo fantastic examples!
This Friday we had interviews with President Martinez. He's an incredible man. He asked me how I would prepare myself if I were sent to a sector that only has a tiny branch instead of a ''large'' ward like the one I'm in now. Ay ay ay haha. So us missionaries have had a really fun time guessing and gossipping about who will get transfered and to where! That's always the large talk of the mission...haha it's silly but entertaining.
Last night I dreamed that Mum was given special permission to be my companion for a day. We had fun talking in Spanish and teaching my current investigators! Love you, Mum. Thanks for the visit :) Random question, does the last name ''Camargo'' sound familiar to you? He's a missionary from Bogota and his parents got baptized about the same time you were on your mission. Just curious!
This Sunday was a marvelous Sunday. After a long week of tracting all day in extreme heat and intense sunshine with NO SUCCESS this week, we had our reward on Sunday. I've been working the past four months with my companion to get Ezequiel and his wife Lorena to come to church. They went inactive after they couldn't have children, then of course began struggling with a few other commandments. It's been an incredible struggle to get them to come. Therefore, I can't even describe the immense joy I felt when I saw them walk through the church doors this Sunday, hand in hand and nervous but happy smiles on their faces. Ah, such fulfilling joy and excitement! This gospel is true, and I hope each of you believe me when I say so. But more than just that, I want you to have your own testimony of it. God gives us a promise that if we have a question or doubt, we can ask Him directly and He will answer us as long as we ask in faith (James 1:5-6). We have that same promise in the Book of Mormon to help us feel four ourselves that the Book of Mormon truly is the word of God, and we can receive that testimony through the Holy Ghost, who testifies of truth and will teach us all things (Moroni 10:3-5). I invite you, and even exhort you, to find out for yourself. Read even just those three verses in the end of the Book of Mormon, and exercise your faith to ask God our Heavenly Father in a sincere, heartfelt prayer if the BoM is not true. Do it and expect an answer--meaning create the environment of quietness and peace to be able to receive an answer. And if you already have gained a testimony of the veracity of the Book of Mormon and this Restored Gospel, I invite you to do it again. The Lord counsels us to ''remember always.''
Family and friends, I love you. I miss you. And the Lord loves you ever so much more and misses you even more. He's anxiously awaiting your return to Him after this life, but we must live this life valiently and prepare ourselves for that rejoiceful day (Alma 34:32-34). Have a wonderful week, and may the Lord bless you in this new year. Make it the best one yet!
Elder Long :)