Thank you so much for all the great emails! I also got hilarious pictures from Trina, Cooper, and the family. I loved hearing from so many relatives this Christmas! Mum, rest assured that I also got your package!!! It came only a few days after Christmas haha. But I sure love it! Vamos a engordarnos no más! I also got fun letters from Tynica, Grandma, my Aussie Twinner Alissa, Krysta, and several ward members. It has been great!
After skyping, I got to go out to the campo (woods) to spend the afternoon and evening with one of the member families in our ward. It was a blast! I took TONS of gorgeous pictures of all of their land out in the woods, and we feasted like never before. Whoo, it was delicious! It didn't feel like Christmas at all, ha, but we had fun :)
Quick requests: Dad, could you send me my line of authority please? I feel so bad that I don't have it! I could have sworn I put it in the envelope with my patriarchal blessing, but I can't find it :/ Thanks! Also, Mum, have you had time to work on getting that Schwann card? If not, how much is the fee to use the Visa I currently have? Because the raingear is much cheeper now that the rainy season is gone (despite the fact that it still rains 3 times a week...haha). Let me know please! Thanks!
Funny Spanish of the week: in the scriptures it talks about how when the Savior comes again, there will be "gnashing of teeth" among the wicked. In Spanish, the verb is "crujir" which also means to squeek. It just made me laugh reading about the "wailing and squeeking of teeth'' haha ;P
Ok, so this week was completely exhausting--not just for us, but for the entire zone. We worked like crazy to be able to get these last few people baptized before the end of the year. To give you a little taste of my missionary life, I'll explain my experiences with Alejandra. She's 33, 8 months pregnant, and we've been working with her ever since I arrived about 4 months ago. She hasn't been able to get baptized for reasons of not living the Law of Chastity, but finally everything got resolved and we had set a date for last Saturday--the same day Claudio Jr got baptized. When we passed by on Friday, she had decided not to do it. She came up with a number of excuses about physical pain from her pregnancy, etc. At long last (after a really cool personal experience of the Spirit speaking through me), we planned another baptismal service for her the following Saturday. It was her last chance before she has a C-section and won't be able to get baptized. Based on experience, we knew that if she didn't get baptized this Saturday, she would again lose the desire to take this important step in her life and she would never receive the forgiveness of her sins nor the blessings of having the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. We worked like mad all week to keep her actively reading, praying, and maintain the desire to be baptized. We even made trips to visit her when the Spirit prompted us too--which usually took about 2 hours because she lives in the campo. Finally the hour for the baptism had come, but she hadn't yet shown up. We divided amongst companionships to send out search parties for her. After another hour, someone spotted her getting on a bus headed the opposite direction. Meh.
After 4 months of hard work, fasting, praying, running across the city (often literally), and doing absolutely everything in our power to help her get baptized, she used her God given agency to choose not to follow through. We've done everything. Everything. It's been extremely disappointing, but the Lord has reassured me through the scriptures that I've done my part and I shouldn't be discouraged. So fear not, I'm doing well. Set back a bit, completely exhausted in every way, but cared for by the Lord. He loves us. He wants us to be happy. God has blessed each of us with our personal agency, and unfortunately at times it's a pain that we can't force people to accept the restored gospel haha. But all is well. The Lord knows best. I can testify that the true gospel of Jesus Christ really has been restored to the earth. Not just reformed, but restored. To restore means to bring back to its original state. We have a living prophet, we have apostles, we have the priesthood authority of God, and we have the opportunity to repent and be forgiven of our sins. May God bless you this next year as you do all of your part with the promise that God will do His.
Feliz Año Nuevo!
Elder Long :)