Monday, June 1, 2015

Paraiso Week 14: In Which Our Hero Sends An Entirely Un-Inspired Letter

Well I confess I didn't think a lot about this e-mail beforehand so I guess it'll just be a status update of the work here in Paraiso. I'm two weeks into my third change here (likely my last) and it's been pretty interesting being in one area for this long. Every time I look back I notice a change. I can't stop changing on the mission - if you asked me a month ago I would've told you I'd finally figured out how to do the work and I'd finally stabilized, but it just keeps happening whether I want it to or not. Now I feel like I'm still stabilizing, still getting better. I guess that's the point, huh? The point of this life is to see how we respond to challenges - whether we respond in the way Christ would or not. If we just keep doing it a bit better each day, we'll get to salvation eventually. As my trumpet teacher Drew Fennell always said, "In music and in life, be careful around points of transition." I understood that in the musical context, but I've really come to understand the real-life context as well.

Anyhow, Paraiso. We actually had maybe 80-90 people in the chapel yesterday, which was great. Normally about 60-70 attend church. Yes, it's a ward, but it's had its share of hard times. But things are always looking up and it's the work of the Lord. As missionaries we're finally reaping some of the efforts we put in when I first got here.

For instance, we have one less-active family that's very close to being rescued - the Espinoza family. They had their interview with the bishop, have their required church attendances (3 is what the Area Presidency has established), and so we just need to teach one more lesson! Then they can really start on their progress, getting callings, going to seminary, all that jazz. We've gotten the progress started and it's been great seeing them get back into it. To clarify, it's just the mom and their two kids we're rescuing - the dad has to work a lot and we don't see him often. But one day I'm sure he'll come back to so that we can complete the family! As they were already sealed in Spain it's incredibly important that it's a family thing! I sent a picture of me with them a few weeks back I think,

Anthony, our newest member here, the guy we baptized last week, is doing well, too! He was ordained a deacon yesterday, which is great. We're just helping to solidify his understanding of the Gospel as we give the follow-up lessons and whatnot. We're praying so that his mom can open the business she wants to so they can live closer to the chapel (they're going back to Loja, where they normally live, sometime this month) in Loja and go to church every week!

We haven't been finding a ton of new investigators but we are finding some less-actives. Here our ward mission leader is super helpful because he's been a member for a looong time and was the branch president way back when, so he knows everybody and where they live. He showed us, for instance, a family of less-actives that we're going to start to teach. The husband works as a clown which gives me no end of amusement. We need more less-actives to work with because the ones we've been working with have mostly stagnated in their progress (other than the Espinozas).

We've been learning, too, how to ask for better references, and that less-actives and recent converts are the gold mine. They're the ones who are most likely to have lots of friends that aren't from the church, so they've always got better references. Elder Godoy, who's in the Area Presidency, promised that if we dedicate half of our time to "rescuing" our baptisms will double. Pretty great promise, huh? We've been putting it in practice and I'm sure we'll be seeing results.

The Navias are a couple that have investigated the church for forever and are practically members - they've just never been able to get married so they can be baptized. With Elder Equite we started the process a few months ago and they're super close. We need to stop by them - it could be that they only need the money and they're good to go! The ward has plans to help them out, so that'll be great.

Well...These wall-of-text letters are just the kind of thing Ian McCrary (Ian is Jeremiah's good friend currently serving a mission in Madagascar) hates and I gotta admit I don't find it very attractive either, so that's all you've got from me today. I didn't really prepare a good spiritual thought, but I'll tell you to go read Elder Packer's talk from last conference.

 I was reading it this morning and it's awesome. Really puts things into perspective. Love you all! I'm starting to feel really old out here because everyone from the grade below is graduating and it won't be long until I've got a year in the mission. I don't want to feel that way at all but I'll keep trying my best to work hard.
 I will never get tired of posting pictures of the things I eat.


There are five of us from our district in the MTC here in the coast, which has been really weird/fun. Catching up on all the good times. I'll be honest I rarely want to go home but I do often want to go back to old sectors or the MTC.

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