Sorry I'm a day late again; we had consejo yesterday and didn't get home until about 10pm. But it was a great consejo as always. Weird fact: it was the last consejo I and President Martinez will ever have in this mission... :/
I always try to make our lessons and contacts entertaining to keep people's attention, which means I often revert to jokes. What cracks me up the most is that people so rarely understand my jokes haha. For example, this week we met a woman named Mercedes, and as I shook her hand I told her, ''What a pleasure! We just finished talking with your neighbor Cadillac a few minutes ago!'' I mean I know it's lame pun humor, but she gave me a pretty weird look and I knew she had no idea what I was talking about haha. Oh well.
Well so I mentioned in my last letter that Sister Voyles is in my zone. Turns out we're actually serving in the same little branch too! I thought we had never met before, but she tells me that she practically grew up with Corey Tyndall and that we went to the mormon prom in the same group together..hahaha. I didn't know anyone in the group except Cameron and Corey, so I hold myself blameless... Anywho, it gave us a good laugh. I'll send the pics.
We're teaching a young couple to reactivate Marcos and baptize his girlfriend Alejandra. They have a cute little 2 yr old daughter, and our hopes are to help them get married. They weren't very interested in anything a few weeks ago until Marcos' brother was killed. The missionaries left a blessing of peace for them in their home, and they told us they've felt waaayyyy better. We taught them about the Holy Ghost and how they can have that feeling of peace all the time, and Alejandra accepted a baptismal date for June 21. I'm pretty bummed I won't be here for it, but I'm excited for them.
As we traveled to Los Angeles Sunday afternoon to be ready for the consejo Monday morning, we arrived about an hour earlier than expected. Luckily, we were to stay the night in my beloved old sector Villa Obispo!!! So we head out to work to take advantage of the hour we had, and we visited some old investigators to see if they were progressing. A while back I mentioned Javiera, a young 15 yr old diagnosed with Leukemia that we began to teach right before I was transfered out of that sector. I felt like Elder Trudeau and I should visit her, and it was certainly inspired. I LOVED getting to see her and her family again; she has such a special spirit. Some great news is that her cancer treatment is going better, and she only has to travel to Concepción once a month instead of everyday now. She was reading in the Book of Mormon and still wants to keep learning more. We had a great lesson about prayer and I immediately told the missionaries to start visiting her again. They had stopped passing by because she was never home (due to her treatment in a different city). But now she'll be home and they'll be able to keep teaching her! Ah, Heavenly Father is so wonderful in His wisdom and how He so mercifully guides us to see miracles.
Speaking of God's manner, yesterday I read in Alma 41:11 in the Book of Mormon. It reads:
And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.
It describes that those that sin without repenting are living contrary to the nature of God or contrary to the nature of happiness. That in itself is a large discussion we could have, but I want to point out that, according to this verse, the nature of God is happiness. Simple. For my dear family who should have listened to Brad Wilcox's talk ''God's grace is sufficient,'' you will remember when he said that ''we are learning heaven.'' If we really believe and hope to become like God someday, it starts now. His nature is happiness. We don't endure to the end and then suddenly become happy once we get to live with him again; rather, we are meant to learn to be happy now. ''Men are that they might have joy'' (2 Nephi 2:27). In short, if someone isn't happy, they're doing it wrong. I know God will help us be happy--obedience to His commandments is what will bring us true and lasting happiness. I know it to be true because I've experienced the difference in my life. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. They live and love us. Let us do their will and always be obedient. Therein lays the joy and happiness that I desire.
Thanks for the fun emails and photos! Looks like everyone is keeping busy. It's definitely been a busy week here as well. We had interviews with our mission president which for most of the missionaries was their last time before President Martinez leaves. I'll be blessed to have one more in another month as I end the mission. Im glad I'll get to have that last interview with the same President I've had for the past two years.
Quick sidenote: Happy birthday Ben!!! Tomorrow you'll be 10 years old. Yeesh. Already in double-digits. Have an awesome birthday with a spiritual Chilean hug from me!
Other fun events: Tomorrow we have transfers. Hna Orellana ends her mission and returns to Peru. Why is that important? What's silly is that I was in her district when she started the mission 18 months ago and I had the pleasure this past transfer to be her zone leader as she ended the mission. Weird haha. Also Trina had mentioned to me about a Sister Voyles coming to my mission from Trina's ward in Las Vegas. This morning I got the phone call that I'm being transfered to a new zone where I'll be zone leader of Sister Voyles! haha small world. It turns out she's the only sister missionary arriving to the mission this transfer. I certainly was 100% sure that I'd be ending my mission here in Catrihuala but the Lord apparantly needs me for four brief weeks in Pitrufquen. I'm disappointed to not get to be here longer but I'll be companions with my dear friend Elder Trudeau. I was his district leader for many months while I was in Yumbel and then I became his zone leader for another 5 months while I was in Villa Obispo so I know him rather well haha. We'll have a great time. Next week I'll send a picture of us so you can submit him to be on the next GQ magazine.
Earlier this week we taught an 18 yr old named Patricio that wasn't really sure if he believed in God. We taught him about how prayer is a way he can know for sure. He accepted the invitation to pray and ask God to help him know if He really exists. In our next visit with Patricio we asked him how it went with his prayer. He smiled and told us that while he prayed silently he felt that he was truly talking with someone. He said that he felt that God was really listening to his prayer. Aaahhh the joy we felt!!! We continued to teach him abot the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to help him also develop faith in the Savior and understand how He helps us nowadays. The Spirit testified so strongly during the entire lesson. It was FANTASTIC to know that there are still people that are willing to humbly look for the truth. Patricio's sincere desire to know and obey was absolutely the key to him receiving an answer to his prayer.
I know for myself that God lives. I don't just believe it because my parents told me so nor because it's the happenin' trend. I know because I like Patricio have felt in my mind and heart that Heavenly Father listens to my prayers and answers them in His wisdom and timing. Christ lives. I know it. This is His true church with the only true priesthood power restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I invite everyone reading this to pray about it and humbly ask God in sincere prayer if it is true. If you are truly willing to obey the answer He gives you He will respond in His infinite love.
Thanks so much for the great letters. I sure love reading them. I'm not gonna lie, your letters this week were a bit trunky, but as long as I'm not trunky I think I'll be ok haha. Earlier this past week I did an exchange with a missionary that is ending his training. An investigator asked him how much time he had in the mission, and he replied, ``Just 9 weeks.`` I chuckled and said that I had as much time left as he had already completed. He thought for a moment and then told me that I only have 6 weeks left. Aahhhhh!!! Not only is the time flying by too quickly, but my math skills are horendous! Probably my spelling too...
That's sooooo weird that Cameron is getting married. I definitely grew up thinking I'd get to be the best-man and actually BE at his wedding, but oh well. Give the goof a hug for me and tell him I miss him.
Yesterday while contacting we met a college student that told us he didn't believe in God. We had an interesting discussion for a few minutes, but he insisted that we leave because he had to study. Before parting, I asked his name, and he told us it was Christian. I laughed and said, ''Well that's pretty ironic!'' His face showed deep internal reflection as he replied, ''Yeah, I guess so.'' Interacting with so many people each week can be pretty funny.
Speaking of interacting, next Sunday we have Skype!!! Wow, I feel like we just skyped for Christmas. Anywho, we'll be at a member`s house to skype around 4pm Chilean time, or 1pm Las Vegas time. Think of some questions to ask!
This past weekend was our stake conference. Usually, our mission president attends stake conference and speaks, but he couldn't this time. So he asked me to take his place. The stake president gave me about 30 mins to do a type of training meeting and it was a blast!!! I talked about Elder Ballard's most recent General Conference talk of ''Follow Up.'' We did some practices, demonstrations, I showed videos, and testified. I think the coolest part of the whole thing was that I felt soooo guided by the Spirit in every aspect. I felt so grateful for the Lord's powerful help so that I could be a mouthpiece through which He could teach His children. The stake president told me afterward that it was ''espectacular!'' So I felt really great. I always love teaching in big group settings like that.
To drive home the point of follow-up of invitations to learn more about the gospel, I shared with them an experience I had at the beginning of my mission. During a Sunday-afternoon lunch with a member, we shared a scripture and the mom told us of a neighbor she wanted us to visit. We made contact with the Sandoval family, and for the next month the member family did an incredible job inviting their neighbors to FHE, accompanying us to lessons, bringing them to church, sitting with them in the classes, etc. This fantastic neighbor family of four was not just baptized, but truly converted to Christ thanks to their neighbors. Currently, Claudio Sandoval is the Elder's quorum president, his 21 yr old son is the young men's president, the mother serves in the primary, and the youngest daughter invited her friends to learn about the Restored Gospel too. In February, the Sandoval family was sealed for time and eternity in the Santiago Temple. Shortly after their baptism, they invited another set of neighbors to learn about the gospel, and the mother was baptized a few months thereafter.
Follow-up, my dear friends and family, enabled all three families to be edified, uplifted, and more fully converted to Christ. A nearby family of less-active members was also reactivated during the process as they were included in the fellowshipping and FHE of the Sandoval family. The gospel is so true! It changes lives! It strengthens us and protects us! It's the best way to find true happiness, and it's the only way to return to live in the presence of our Loving Heavenly Father. What a wonderful opportunity and responsibility we have to share this gospel with those in need of the Lord's help. I love my Savior, and I'm so grateful that He has given me such a great chance to fortify my testimony and convert myself to Him during these two years. I know He lives, and I know that this is His true church restored in it's fullness. Have a wonderful week remembering this great truth! Love you!