Monday, April 8, 2013
Email April 8, 2013
Hello Family! How was that conference? I wanted to cheer during Elder Nelson's talk as he talked about the need for members to work. I especially loved as he talked about the important role of ward mission leaders: we don't have one here in Carolina so I'm hoping that talk hit home with the Bishop here. But really, the conference was great. We watched it in the Stake Center, and in between sessions we actually just hung out at the Stake Center. The mission is really emphasizing the need to not use a lot of miles on our cars. I was really surprised they didn't send us out to work though. It was very un-mission-like. It felt really weird to have that two hour break. We moved today from our apartment in Carolina to another just a block away. It's a nice little apartment. It's more up to date: the other one was old. It had been used for 40 years by missionaries. WOW. It was a good thing we left. And the new house is cool, I'll take a picture :) The other one was just an apartment on the side of a bunch of other apartments. That's why I never sent pictures. As far as the actual week goes it went by fast. We are working hard, but we're just really trying to get our investigators ready for baptism. We have four on date for this Saturday: Milagros and Edwin, Maria Teresa, and...LYM. Do you remember her? She is the daughter of a Pentecostal pastor. She came to conference and when we talked after she said, "I was praying this morning asking God what I need to do, then I came here and the apostles talked about the need to have faith and be baptized. So I feel like that's what God wants me to do." I asked her what her hesitations were and she said, "Obviously my dad, and I feel like I'm not progressing in the gospel. I don't know why." I told her, "It's because you've learned everything the Holy Ghost can teach you before you're baptized. You have received your witness of the truth, you have come to church many times, read the Book of Mormon. What more CAN you do?" She completely agreed to that, so I asked her when she wanted to be baptized. She asked, "When do you think?" And of course I said, "This Saturday." And I smiled :) <---Like that. And she said, "Okay, that's what I need to do." I was really excited: that was something I have been fasting and praying for recently because I had seen her lack of progress and our inability to meet with her. It was a really cool moment to talk with her and know that God loves His children. Milagros also got some great news this week: she went back to the hospital and they told her that they aren't going to even put her on Chemotherapy anymore. WHAT? I was stunned. A true miracle has occurred in her life, and she knows it. She's been so happy: here's this woman with Ovarial Cancer and she's been inviting us to eat, going between the hospital visits, etc. She went from being an emergency case pacient to a less-catastrophic patient. They're planning to operate on her sooner so that they can get out the cancer, but it's a miracle how things have changed so drastically from the beginning. All from a Priesthood blessing. We have a big emphasis in the mission right now about "Rescuing" the inactive and less-active members. We are only supposed to go contacting if it's close to a less-active's or inactive's house. Well, we went to a man's house but we couldn't find it (numbers and addresses here in Puerto Rico are crazy. You ask a Puerto Rican for directions and they say: "Go straight for about ten seconds, take your right hand turn and continue until you see the yellow fire hydrant that's on the left side, then turn left, and you'll drive past three houses. At the fourth house ask directions: that's where my cousin lives.")--and anyway, we went looking for this man, and we were contacting houses to ask help (and teach the gospel of course) but all of the people were ignoring us. But we went to one house and found a family of 6 people: 4 young men all Aaronic Priesthood age. We were ecstatic! They invited us back and accepted a pamphlet about Joseph Smith. When we asked if we could come back they nodded their heads excitedly. Oh man, it was a cool moment. We also began teaching another Pentecostal girl this week. She was super interested in the Book of Mormon because she had no idea what it was. She wasn't the kind of investigator that seems super happy by your message, but the Book of Mormon just caused her to have a lot of questions. Her name is Sandybet. We'll see what happens there. There are some girls named Nicol and Minely who had a baptismal date for the 20th. They are really cool. They call me and Elder Castaneda "Harry Potter" and "Jackie Chan." I wish I had more time to send you pictures--just so you know, I WANT to send you pictures. Sometimes I just honestly can't. If I could send you a picture, you'd see just how true it is: Elder Castaneda really looks like Jackie Chan. But anyway, Nicol and Minely have been visited by missionaries since last August. Since they only live with their mom it's been hard for the Elders to teach them. And since the sister missionaries live far away, they haven't been able to meet with them consistently. I felt the need to take them from the sisters and start teaching them, and ever since then they've been really progressing. We've visited them with members, and we set their baptismal dates, but since they didn't come to conference their baptismal date dropped. They have really great desires, but they need to come to church more. Their mom is really accepting of the message too. But the big thing is that they have to change the culture of their life: living the gospel is a true change, and a lot of people really don't realize it. Or they simply don't want to change. That's interesting isn't it? How people can simply not have the desire to change: they know something is good but won't change to be able to have it. Something that's been on my mind lately is that people are often converted to one of two things: the feelings they have when the missionaries are teaching them, or they just really love the church. Sometimes they don't gain their own testimonies of the gospel, but they love the feelings that it gives them. But it really all comes back to desires: we have to have the desire to change, and the desire to live the gospel. If we don't have that desire, the Holy Ghost really won't move us to work. That's what I loved about Jeffrey R. Holland's talk when he spoke about just having that inkling of a desire to believe. I think that an inkling of desire can do so much. The topic line comes from our great discussion between conference yesterday. We were talking about what a White Missionary Manual would have said for missionaries in the Old Testament. It was hilarious. But we're also missionaries, and I'm also a nerd when it comes to the scriptures. We were saying things like, "She doesn't live the law of chastity. President, should we stone her?" and then "No Elder, it says here to offer a bullock behind her house during the new moon..." HA. super great. Anyway, love you all a lot! Happy Birthday Grandpa! I love ya! And your house changes are really cool! Elder Cevering Mom,thank you for sending me the letters: I love reading what my friends are doing. When you sent me the pictures of Micah I almost started crying: I was so happy to see him as a missionary. And he sounds like he's loving his mission.