Monday, May 25, 2015

Thoughts of Eternity

First off, we had a baptism this week! Yay!

His name's Anthony. We first got in contact with him when, leaving the chapel one Sunday back in March, an Hermana called us over - someone we didn't recognize. Well, she presented us to Anthony and explained they had recently come here on a kind of extended vacation and that she was a member but her son wasn't and that she wanted us to teach him and prepare him for baptism. Of course we accepted the invitation!

It turns out they live near Loja, another city in Ecuador (that's outside of our mission), but they live far outside of the city and where they live there aren't any chapels, so it's hard for them to come to church. So that's why she wanted him to receive the lessons and be baptized here. So we did it!

Anthony's a good kid, and although teaching a kid (he's 11 years old) has its own set of challenges, we've helped him to read the Book of Mormon, pray, and also receive an answer that the church is true - he just felt it, and we explained that was what he needed. Maybe it took a couple tries to help him understand the math of tithing, or the meaning of the word of wisdom, but it all turned out well in the end. The greatest challenge was actually convincing his mom to let us baptize him at the time that we did - she wanted to keep waiting and waiting until he practically knew the Book of Mormon and Bible backwards and forwards. That and the fact that she had to travel to Spain for a few weeks and that all this time we've been worried, running against the clock until the time that they have to go back to Loja (they're going back next month). So in the time that we have now we need to really solidify what he knows and help him set out on a good path.

Honestly I had a lot of doubts about whether we should baptize him. Which was kinda funny - I'm sure most missionaries would jump on that, but...I just really worried about whether I was doing the right thing, if I was really trying to love him and care about his salvation. I do feel much better now and know it was what we needed to do, but it's made me think a lot. About why it's not easy, why we don't have more "success." Sometimes I look at all the wards here and the problems that they currently have and wonder how in the world it happened and how in the world we can actually continue having progress. It always seems to happen to other missionaries, you know? They always seem to be the ones that have the miracle conversion stories and it's hard to see what we've done.

The thing I do know is that it's the Lord's work! It will keep going, like the stone cut without hands, until it fills the whole earth. And we are always helping people even if we don't realize it. Today I was talking with one of my old companions - in a funny twist he left La Bota to come here. Between me, him, and my companion, we represent almost the entirety of the history (9 months or so) of the sector La Bota 2 and we're all here in the same zone. It was great to hear that some families we had all worked with for all that time were progressing and coming back to church.

I got the audio from a video where Elder Holland speaks that is really powerful. He explains why it's so darn hard.

My only other thought from this week comes from the training that our district leader gave last Thursday. He explained that we need to help the people we're teaching understand the ETERNAL significance of what we teach, and of the decisions we take.

Do you think about that often? Do you think about the fact that what you're doing in this moment will have an impact on how you will live for eternity?

We can imagine a string that stretches out in both directions infinitely - take another piece of string and tie it around the infinite string. The width of that string represents the time we have in this life. The time we have to affect all of the rest of the string. Mathematically speaking (no, I haven't entirely forgotten math) that actually represents zero.

What we do, the decisions we take, are different when we think of it in that light. If we fail to be faithful, to live the commandments, to search God and religion, it's often a lack of perspective. Moroni 7:41:

 41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

Keep that in mind! And strive for eternal life! More than anything...remember you can do it. It is absolutely within your reach.
Have I mentioned I'm in the coast yet?

I seriously don't understand why latinos can't smile for pictures! I swear, they have nice smiles!

 On divisions with my district leader. Esmeraldas is one of the poorest parts of the country.


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