November 15, 2010 handwritten letter sent snail mail.
Family! It's strange to think that you won't get this for at least a week (actually it was over two weeks). It's also strange to think about the last week. I'm on my mission! What's going on? It's good. We had some cool experiences this week where I could feel the spirit very strong, but then there's opposition. Dang opposition. Satan tries to wear on you any way he can. He doesn't want you out here so he'll do really ANYTHING to you out of here. The key - -work!
Alright, firstly, my companion, Elder Chavez.. He's a nice guy. Though I don't completely understand him sometimes (in language and in personality – but more so in personality).
For awhile here, when we would tract and contact, if the person said they had a religion, my companion would just say, Oh alright... nice meeting you, chao. But every time I would think, “We have to do something more than that!” We know they have a religion, of course they do. But they don't have all of the truth. During the apostasy, many churches came about that have little pieces of truth here and there, but they are missing some vital truths, proper authority, correct baptism, prophets and apostles, etc. We have to find SOME WAY to get them to at least hear our message, the truth. So I read in Preach My Gospel about teaching skills and read over my notes from the messages the apostles gave us while in the MTC and I realized it is all about communication. Tell them quickly and correctly why you're here, that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored on the earth in all it's correctness and fullness!
So just yesterday, I decided I am not going to just take “I already have my religion, sorry.” I wanted to give the truth a chance! So just last night we were on this street and just about every door we knocked on, when they said they weren't interested, I kept asking questions until they were! But it was in a nice way of course. I really do love all of these people and I think people are surprised with our happiness and friendliness.
We had some good lessons this week. First off my first lesson! Her name is Angelica. We had already talked to her once and she agreed to a return visit. We went to her house and her son was there with his daughter. (Angelica is 55 or 60). Oscar, and Alison. We taught them the first lesson and it was awesome. They all felt the spirit and I did too! Way strong. I didn't say a whole lot, but I did relate the first vision and said a few things here and there. They committed to reading 3rd Nephi 11 and pray about it. Hopefully they follow through on those!
Another man, Luis. He is 36 years old, loves to cycle, is not married, has a dog, lives alone. He's really cool and we contacted him while tracting. We taught him a lesson and showed him the restoration video and the spirit was there. He's really honest about his feelings about his life so far. He's lonely, wants to get married. He's great, successful, way nice, good looking, talented. I know he'll get married. And hopefully the gospel can help him find comfort. But he's a happy guy and we've only taught him the first lesson. Hopefully everything works out!
We have visited a lot of inactive members also. At least one a day. President Swenson wants us to visit at least 5 per week. It's a thing they call “permanecer”. Ask dad what that means. (He said it means “Abiding”) It's good.
We also get references from members - their friends and family who aren't members. My favorite member so far is Hermana Patricia. She's probably 50 or so. Her husband died a few years ago. He is Japanese. Anyway she is SO strong in the gospel. I love when people are. She's awesome. She's come with us to visit a neighbor of hers 3 times. But the neighbor hasn't been home or available so far. We'll keep trying.
I'm surprised at how strong some people are. There are several youth here who are either the only active member or member at all in their family.
There's a lady names Iris Acerton. She was baptized a few weeks ago. Her two kids – she has three, but one is only 5 years old – Alvaro and Barbara accepted to be baptized this week. Barbara is 12 and has a strong testimony, but one thing she lacks is permission from her dad! Grrrr... ha ha. And Alvaro is 15 and he has been a little harder to reach. Anyway, I'll tell you a little bit about how they accepted to be baptized. We went to their house a few days ago. We were hoping their dad was there also so we could teach/talk to him to allow his kids to be baptized. Mainly just Barbara needed permission. Anyway, he wasn't there. We watched the Testaments with them. It was awesome! Best movie EVER! Even in Spanish. The spirit was way strong. After the movie everyone just sat there silently for quite awhile. Like for AWHILE. The movie was just playing the song This is the Christ.
Usually waiting like that makes me uncomfortable, but this waiting with Hermana Iris, Alvaro and Barbara was good. The spirit was there. I looked over at the family and my companion and everyone was crying. Alvaro and I weren't, but I was crying inside because I was so happy. Hermana Iris bore a strong testimony to her kids and it was SO neat! And then my companion bore a weepy testimony. Then I bore my testimony. Then we asked them if they would follow the example of Christ and be baptized on November 20th. Barbara said yes. I think she had already accepted but it was just her dad's permission she lacked. Her tears were just awesome! That's weird to say, but really. They were proof of how strong of a testimony a 12 year old can have. Next we asked Alvaro and he was thinking about it. His mom bore her testimony again and it was cool. She's so strong after only a few weeks of being baptized. Then Alvaro accepted! And he had a big smile on his face !
That all happened on Thursday or Friday and they committed to come to church.
Well, they weren't at church - -we don't know why. We called them, went to their house, they weren't there. Actually when we went, their 5 year old brother peaked out the window but no one answered. I'm scared that their dad has something to do with it. It's a strange situation. I can only just keep praying.
Also – we have Adriana. She's 21, has a cute little daughter and has a testimony that the church is true, attends every week, has accepted every lesson, is reading the Book of Mormon. But she is not married to the guy she lives with. He works a lot, he's a bus driver. He wants to get married on February 11th... that's all she needs! She's so strong... just needs casarse!
We've tracted or contacted in the street probably 5 members that are inactive. There are a lot of those! The people here are so nice! Not everyone is interested in the gospel, but ANYONE who we start talking to is awesome.
Let's see –what else? It gets pretty cold here. I still don't have any sweaters and I need them. I use my coat from Aida and Steve every day, so gracias!
It's crazy - -I've gone from living with 8 Elders in the MTC for two months to now I'm only with Elder Chavez in little Labranza alone. Elder Lusk and Sister Noxon from the MTC are in my zone, so I've seen them a couple times. Elder Laird is also in Temuco, and Elder Arnett too. It's weird. They are my WAY good friends, and I wonder where they are and what they are doing all the time because I haven't seen them at all!
In case you want to look up where I am on a google map or something, I'm in Labranza, Chile. I'll go by size - - 30 minutes south of Temuco. That would be considered the main city you want to use to look it up. Concepcion is 5 hours north. I live on Los Caiquenes street in the last house on the left.
I have to leave soon, we are going to play soccer I think and then go to the mall. I need to buy sweaters. At least one.
To sum it up, I'm doing good. The more I do what I was called to do – the happier I am and the more success I have. The more success you have, the happier you are again, and the more you understand your purpose!
By the way, feel free to email me too. Just try not to email too long.. (not much time on the computer) - -but emailing would be good because we only get mail when someone goes 5 hours up to Concepcion and gets all the mail for the southern areas. It takes a month sometimes down south because of that. So if you'd like, you can email. And again I am going to try to send pictures today. Cross your fingers!
I love you Mom and Dad and you Tali, Siera, Carlos, Naomi, Levi, Aida, Steve, Wes, Jacob and Camilla! Oh and the almost born little guy. :) Love, Elder Gomez