Oh remember the Manual Belief-Destroying I mentioned that the missionaries used to use? I got some questions about what exactly that is.
It's exactly what it sounds like.
They actually had a book with scriptural references and everything to tear apart the beliefs of anyone they came across. Whether they were Jehova's Witnesses, Catholics, Evangelists, the manual took care of them. They taught with the manual open on one knee and the Bible on the other. The missionaries actually waltzed in to other churches on occasion and preached there. And baptized.
Of course that's the exact opposite of what we do now. It's because we're more chevere now. And spiritual.
Anyhow, to continue:
Edison Lopez: The Elder's Quorum President. A fantastic example for the returned-missionaries here. He served about 8 years ago and now works as a math professor as he studies. He may not live in grandeur but he's really living the commandments of the Lord, getting an education, and everything. The only thing he's lacking is getting married. Our district leader won't let him live that down. Curly hair, always joking and animated, always willing to help. A good teacher.
The Salas Family: I always enjoy visiting them. The dad is less-active and has been for some time, but the son and especially the daughter are more active in the church. As a family they have a pretty good dead-pan act that I enjoy a lot. We're trying to help the son especially to get excited and involved in the church because soon he will turn 18 years old and thus qualify for a mission. So hopefully we can get them there!
The Ruano Family: Recent converts from a change or two before me. The kids are the recent converts and the mom was reactivated. She's an awesome example, really trying to help her kids get involved in the church. When we ask "did you read the scriptures this week?" we rarely have to worry about them. The oldest kid recently turned 12 and we're getting ready to give him the Priesthood next week. I can just see the boys becoming great missionaries one day! It's really awesome seeing the progress in a family like that.
I heard y'all wanted to hear a bit more about the people that aren't members I'm working with...will, our investigators aren't doing too hot right now. We have part of the blame too because we've been focusing a lot on less-actives and recent converts...hopefully I'll have more to report in the coming weeks.
Also, I thought I'd share a bit about the mission life that's good fun: the vocabulary. Just like any profession or hobby it's developed its own vocabulary. For instance:
"Fech:" Apparently this is a Utah thing. It's funny though how the latinos always get rather American-ized and pick up odd things here and there. Fech is one of those words we like to put in place of worse ones. There's probably a name for that but I've forgotten it. Fech. (I don't say it much because, one, it's apparently from Utah, and two, the white bible tells us to avoid slang. I think part of the reason I find it so funny is because if it IS from Utah, it's such a hilariously cute Utah kind of thing.)
Morir: To die. But in the mission it means to go home. whether at the end of the 2 years or before. The sector you start in is where you were born. Until 6 months you're a "guagua," or baby. From then until 12 you're a "joven" or youth. At 12 you become an adulto and at 16 an old person. I don't know how much of this vocabulary is standard across all missions, but I imagine this is one of them. It leads to funny sentences though. I remember one of my ZL's talking about this once and saying, "With my first companion he told me, 'Yeah, three of my companions have died' and I was like, "Fech...!"
Ok enough of that. On to more spiritual things.
I learned this week another part of the missionary purpose: to help everyone. Not just investigators, not even just less-actives! Everyone. I noticed this as I was able to have some awesome experiences this past week with members. In several instances we went to appointments, they fell through, and we ended up going to either members or recent converts that we thought - and ARE - strong members but discovering that we were able to share with them in that exact moment exactly what they needed to here.
For instance, a small example is when there was an appointment we were excited to go to - actually, it was with the Salas family above, and we were going to bring Edison Lopez. But they weren't there. I was pretty bummed, and didn't know what to do - we were far from any other investigator or less-active, it was late, and we didn't have time to travel to anybody else or we wouldn't be able to teach a lesson and get back home in time. Then my companion suggested we go visit a recent-convert family nearby that we already had an appointment with. I thought, "We already have an appointment, so what does it matter? We can just visit them then." but because there wasn't a better option, I said, why not?
We went there, taught the lesson, it was alright (all of the electricity had gone for some reason so we had to do some shenanigans with Edison's phone to have light to read the scriptures). We asked one of the little kids to close with a prayer. As she did, she mentioned something about her dad (who lives somewhere else and isn't a member) and I didn't catch all of what she said, but something about not letting him go very far. Huh? And then after the prayer the mom explained to us that they were all passing through a bit of a rough patch, that the father has cancer that can't be cured. The kids were all crying. It was completely unexpected for me.
Edison shared his testimony and many words of comfort. He promised them that he felt that their dad was going to be ok. I believe him. I hope they did too. I think they felt a little bit better afterwards.
But what a strange turn of events that put us there! And I can't help but think that that's why our other appointment fell through. That only Edison Lopez could tell that family, in that moment, what they needed to do. And that my companion had the idea to visit them.
It's a work of miracles out here! I'll keep trying to love it! Love what you're doing, wherever you are! And find something useful to do. Miss you and love you all lots!