Monday, December 7, 2015

Roots And Branches

If you would like to send Jeremiah a Christmas card, that would make his day! His address in on the sidebar. Thank you for all your prayers and support for him.

I think my last like 5 or 6 e-mails have had two-word titles, so this one has three, for your enjoyment.

Well, this week started out with some sickness - it was funny, my knees got better, but then my companion got sick, and we stayed almost the entire day in the house on Tuesday. It was actually kind of good because I could kind of recharge and feel better, ready for the week. And it was a pretty good week after all!

On Thursday, we received an interesting training from President (through the zone leaders - they go to Quito every month to receive training and then bring it back to us) about how to help the church grow. He compared it to a tree, the roots being the "old" members of the church, and the branches being the new converts. The problem was that the branches were growing a bit too fast for the roots and because of that were dying off because the roots couldn't support them. The point is, we need true, dedicated converts, who go to the temple, and get sealed. There's a difficulty in the mission with finding families, especially priesthood holders, who will help families to progress. I've seen this personally quite a bit - for example, in my ward in the coast, where the active priesthood were very few. As a result, the ward had a lot of problems growing.

So they invited us to pray specifically to find families - and not just that, but to pray to the Lord how many people are in the family we're searching and then do everything we can to find that family. It's pretty cool, because I feel that we really will find this family we're looking for. For example, we're looking for a family of five. That's what my companion and I felt to look for.

I realized, too, that I've kind of been missing that in my mission. I think that's the experience that lets someone love the mission - finding a family and helping that family to find the gospel. And I realized I haven't really been focused on that! It's now my greatest desire. Help a family to not only get baptized, but go to the temple. Because, after all, that's the whole point, isn't it?

The awesome thing is that we do have one such family we're working with right now, the Sanchez family! It's the mom and her two kids - one is 15, the other 25. We found them contacting and it's incredible the progress they've had! More than anything the mom just wants the best for her kids, and it's just incredible to me how willing they are to listen to us! It's magic, I'm not sure what we did. Well, better said, it's the Spirit! They came to church yesterday, stayed all three hours, got along with everyone, left wanting to come back - and even better, Andres Sanchez found someone there who he'd known before. Things just fell into place! They've got a date for the 25th (the two kids, the mom is a less-active who got baptized when she was a kid), because the 26th is Saturday and why Christmas is just one day before, so why the heck not. What I loved most was when we were teaching them yesterday and the mom started with the prayer. While praying, she said "Thanks so much for this, I've been waiting for a long time and it's finally come..." I just wanted to cry.

We also had a cool experience finding a new investigator this week. We went to find a contact we gotten an appointment with two weeks ago or so (highly unlikely, people forget even if we tell them the day before) and as we were approaching the door, we saw an old guy sitting outside in a wheelchair. Now, old people here are almost always super Catholic and not super interested in listening so I guess we approached with some trepidation. We started talking, and he told us "yeah, people like you have already come by here, but they always say they'll come back, and they never do." I wondered if that might be because he never progressed, but I decided this time to push that thought away. Sometimes you just never know, and can't just judge people on the outside. "It's a waste of time," he said. But I decided to be persistent. What if we just need to show him that we care about him, that we will come back? It would have been so easy, like we almost do, to just have said thanks, and leave. I wouldn't blame most missionaries for doing it because he didn't seem like someone that could progress.

But I decided to be persistent.

After promising a couple times we WOULD come back if he allowed us, he let us sit down there outside his house and we got talking! And you know what, he may not understand everything and he may not have accepted baptism but I could start to love him. I think that's the most important part! He's got a great old guy laugh, he's very polite and kind, and he's fun to talk with. Oh, and his name's Raul. And we'll definitely go back to teach him!

It all reminds me of a talk I love by Pres. Monson that talks about how we must see others as who they can become. It's not easy, and I'm not at all saying I've gotten good at it, but I could feel the Spirit as we talked, and that's what's most important.

You don't normally see last names like this here. (They were Jehovah's Witnesses)
The other elders in the ward had a baptism this week! Robin is the name of the guy that got baptized and he's really awesome.
             The Cotacachi volcano on a rare sunny day.

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