Monday, April 20, 2015

The Irony!

Spelling update: the sickness is spelled "Chikungunya." How do I know that?

Welllll my companion got it.

It was a bit rough because we had to stay in the house a couple days. He had a pretty high fever, pains in the joints and back, and a pretty bad headache. As a missionary it stinks being inside because we just want to go out and work. We can get so much done in one day - visit so many people, change so many lives...buuut yeah it didn't happen those two days. Luckily they were two days where we normally have meetings so we didn't lose quite as much time as we could have.

And for me it was a great opportunity to serve. I gave my companion a priesthood blessing after the first day, and in that moment his fever broke and started to go back down. Some people have contracted this stuff and two weeks later the joint pains are too much for them to do much of anything. We were only in the house for two days, which was a great blessing.

The remedy? Pretty much just tylenol. That and everybody here told us to drink Guitig with lime and a bit of salt. Guitig is carbonated water. And they recommend it for everything. Well, it's pretty tasty with lime and salt so hey it worked out.

Much better than what other people have been trying to do - kill it with alcohol. Um, I'm pretty sure that doesn't work. And I'm pretty sure the only cases that have died because of chikungunya are the ones that tried drinking it to death. They drank something to death, I guess.

But We Did Have Some Success!

-First, we have a thing as a mission that we need to try hard to contact families we see in the street. I was on divisions with my district leader and because he wanted to focus in that I finally worked up the courage to do it. I saw a family down the road on the other side of the street and finally said, let's cross over and contact them. And we did! It turns out they were a family of Colombians that had recently moved here (they come here to Esmeraldas a lot - they know better how to run a business so generally do better than the lackadaisies here) and we got to share with them The Family, a Proclamation for the World. Unfortunately they didn't live in our sector, and my companion finished the contact before we could try to get their address to pass along the reference, but I felt the Spirit! I think they'll find the church some day. And I need to contact families more.

-Also I got to read a ton in my Book of Mormon while in the house - my second time through in the mission. I got through Helaman and about half of 3rd Nephi - now I'm almost done with Mormon. Whoo! Read it every day, people!

-And one of our less-actives did well. He's a guy who's been a convert for a good while but always had a few struggles, mostly with his family. Now he's pretty down all the time. He sees all his faults and it just gets him even more down. He doesn't like saying "Yeah, I'll come to church," and not fulfill his promise, which often happens. He can't stand it. But we really committed him to coming to church and he came! It's the first time in my my two months here that I've seen him in a regular sacrament meeting. And he was just so proud saying, "I did it!" that day. We can all do it! What kills is when we say "That's just the way I am. I'll never change." Because then we really do kill that last chance we have to do so.

The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword, by Marvin J. Ashton

I listen to this talk a couple times a week because my playlist is kinda short but I've really come to love it. He talks a lot about the damage we can cause with just what we say, and charity. Here's a snippet:

During an informal fireside address held with a group of adult Latter-day Saints, the leader directing the discussion invited participation by asking the question:“How can you tell if someone is converted to Jesus Christ?” For forty-five minutes those in attendance made numerous suggestions in response to this question, and the leader carefully wrote down each answer on a large blackboard. All of the comments were thoughtful and appropriate. But after a time, this great teacher erased everything he had written. Then, acknowledging that all of the comments had been worthwhile and appreciated, he taught a vital principle:“The best and most clear indicator that we are progressing spiritually and coming unto Christ is the way we treat other people.”

Really, I just don't get it sometimes. Why is it so hard to give someone else the benefit of the doubt and believe that they're really trying? Why is it so hard to accept that many people struggle and help them instead of critizing them? Is it because they sometimes hold leadership positions? Why do we hold everyone else to a much higher standard of righteousness than our own? And why don't we just display charity and help them?

I've always loved a talk by President Monson, "See Others as They May Become." Another snippet for you.

Back in the year 1961, a worldwide conference was held for mission presidents, and every mission president in the Church was brought to Salt Lake City for those meetings. I came to Salt Lake City from my mission inToronto, Canada.

In one particular meeting, N. Eldon Tanner, who was then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve, had just returned from his initial experience of presiding over the missions in Great Britain and western Europe. He told of a missionary who had been the most successful missionary whom he had met in all of the interviews he had conducted. He said that as he interviewed that missionary, he said to him, “I suppose that all of the people whom you baptized came into the Church by way of referrals.”

The young man answered, “No, we found them all by tracting.”

Brother Tanner asked him what was different about his approach—why he had such phenomenal success when others didn’t. The young man said that he attempted to baptize every person whom he met. He said that if he knocked on the door and saw a man smoking a cigar and dressed in old clothes and seemingly uninterested in anything—particularly religion—the missionary would picture in his own mind what that man would look like under a different set of circumstances. In his mind he would look at him as clean-shaven and wearing a white shirt and white trousers. And the missionary could see himself leading that man into the waters of baptism. He said, “When I look at someone that way, I have the capacity to bear my testimony to him in a way that can touch his heart.”

We have the responsibility to look at our friends, our associates, our neighbors this way. Again, we have the responsibility to see individuals not as they are but rather as they can become. I would plead with you to think of them in this way.

I've found this mindset actually kind of...liberating. And it helps me to love the people more. Instead of getting annoyed with the less active that doesn't come to church I can instead see that they're really trying to do what's right in their family. I don't know, it's just...better to think this way. I don't mean to say it lowers our expectations but...well, I love this recent talk in General Conference. And I love the way the audience reacted to it. It's by Elder Renlund, and at the end of his talk his said:

"If we don't try, we're just latter-day sinners-"

The audience chuckled. Cute little phrase!

"If we don't persevere, we're just latter-day quitters-"

Laughing again. He made it rhyme! But then to make it clear that he wasn't joking, Renlund delivered:

"and if we don't allow others to try, we're just latter-day hypocrites."

Silence. I felt the heat from that machete swing here in Ecuador.

But how true it is! Love you all, hope you have a good week! 
A banana cart. My favorite thing in the world. As you can tell by the angle I'm stalking him. Waiting...

 A critter I found in the shop below our apartment.

A poorly-lit picture of people watching a football (soccer) game. They had all these drums lined up and where making QUITE the racket.

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