I can't believe that this will be my last email to you all. This week was good.
First off, from last week, I dont know if I mentioned that we had a zone leaders council and me and Elder Strait had to prepare two presentations. We planned and prayed all week and in the actual meeting they both turned out very well. We felt very good about them! During one of the presentations we were talking about the importance of talking to everyone and the importance of inviting everyone to repent and come unto Christ. The spirit was there so strongly and we were able to teach with power and authority. It was neat when one of the zone leaders, Elder Walker, raised his hand and shared a story that was amazing. He shared that the other day he was on a companionship interchange with another missionary and they walked by a house and someone was outside washing the car and they were in a bit of a hurry...but the thought came to his mind, "I should stop and talk to this person...if nothing else, to be a good example to this other missionary who I am with" He admitted that honestly he didnt have much faith that this person would be receptive, but when they started talking to the person, the man said that he was waiting for them to show up. He had had a dream the night before that they would come by, because in that moment this man was really sick and he was waiting for representatives for Jesus Christ to show up somehow. They showed up! And what followed was a series of miracles. When Elder Walker shared it, it was so powerful! He asked "where would the testimony of that man be if I hadn't of stopped to talk to him? Where would MY testimony be if I hadn't of stopped?"
I know that the Spirit is constantly guiding us, and if we just listen then he will direct us in all things.
On Sunday when we were doing all of the numbers for the week, I received a lot of reports from the zone leaders that they have been putting into practice the things that we shared and showed during the presentation and they have had all sorts of amazing experiences. It was really good to hear that because some of the topics that we talked about were things that we wanted to get across to them for quite a while.
We were able to do interchanges in Lebu, where we talked to tons of people and found some great potential people. It was my first time ever in Lebu, so I brought along the little cards from Aunt Chris (Quincy) that she sent me for her converts at the beginning of my mission. I think some of the people still live there so that will be good. I gave them to the missionaries in Lebu.
We were able to go to a little area called Los Alamos, very close to Lebu, where we had an AMAZING LESSON! There are two sisters there, Sister Haycock and Sister Calcina (who arrived in the mission only 2 weeks ago) Sister Haycock is sick...she's had some abdominal problems for months now which makes it complicated to leave the house a lot. It was a very inspired companionship because she is so sick but President Martinez assigned her to train. They are doing a great job. We all met in the church where we taught a lesson to two sisters, Daniela and Maria Jose, and Alejandro, a recent convert. They are amazing people! Daniela is 17 and she is a spiritual giant! I dont know where she came from! She has the most sincere desire to repent and she has a solid testimony of the church. She is going to be baptized on August 25th. Maria Jose, who is 13, also has a strong testimony of the church. She is very sensitive to the spirit which is rare in a 13 year-old. She says that she still isn't ready to be baptized on the 25th, but we all know that she can definitely be ready by that day. They have been coming to church for some time now and they are truly repented. She is going to pray, asking if she should get baptized with her sister.
What was the coolest part to me is when they both related the story of when the sister missionaries first got to their house. The family wasn't united, they fought a lot, and there wasn't a lot of love. When the sisters got there everything changed! Literally. The Holy Ghost was introduced in their lives. Everything has changed now! They both were very emotional when they related the story.
"The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." That is a true statement by Elder Packer! I know that the gospel is true.
The next day we were able to go to Lota, a jam-packed city on the coast. It was awesome. We found some amazing people with Elder Wilcox! It was one of the best days I've had lately. It's been hard for me to be in the office a lot for the last month of so, so it was good to get into the streets! We found Jocelyn, a lady who is extremely prepared for the gospel. We had a feeling to talk to her so we did and she was receptive and led us to her house. We invited her to repent of her sins and we talked a lot about forgiveness because she has habits and pleasures in her life that she knows are bad but she doesnt know how to free herself from them. When we looked her in the eye and testified that she can be free from sin...that she can be clean, she was emotional and she expressed that she wants exactly that and she is willing to do whatever it takes to have it. She has attended the Evangelical church like the majority of Lota but it's never filled her up like our short message of truth did. She accepted the invitation to prepared to be baptized on the 8th of September. Before we had even brought it up she asked where our church was because she wants to come, if she can. Of COURSE you can Jocelyn!
We found some other good people as well whom I would love to tell you about, but I´ll tell you later, face to face :D
Lota is a very difficult place right now. It is very set in its religious ways and in its sins. It's a BIG city with 6 missionaries there...but there have only been 3 people baptized this year there in total. It reminds me of the cities in the scriptures that are "hard-hearted and stiff-necked"
I was able to go back and visit Independencia yesterday which was awesome! I was able to go back to the Rivera family, a member family who was a little bit inactive, especially Andrea, who is 28. Andrea didn't believe anything in the church and was really hard to get along with when I got there...very unbelieving....but through our humility and the BOOK OF MORMON she was able to change her heart. It was literally one of the coolest miracles that had happened to me up until that point of my mission, and still is one of my most precious memories. They were so surprised when I showed up randomly on their doorstep! It's been over a year. Andrea and Sister Rivera freaked out! They called Oliver and Carla to come home fast and they were surprised. They told Elder Strait some of the experiences that we had when I was there...and they thanked me for "changing Andrea" which I know really wasn't me...it was just Alma 32 and the Holy Ghost!
We went to Maria afterward....which was one of the coolest moments of my mission. Maria is the lady whose son, Pancho, was a member but who didn't want anything to do with the church for years. But she started changing and repenting big time when I was there and she wanted to be baptized. She was baptized two weeks after I left the area. (I remember being really bummed out....because I only had ONE transfer in the area and I got changed after only a month and a half!) When we showed up at her doorstep last night she was shocked! She didn't think I would return ever. She now is a relief society teacher and her HUSBAND, Victor, who didn't want anything with the church when I was there was baptized two weeks ago!!! Now there are sisters instead of Elders in the ward. She looks different then when I was there. She looks HAPPY and full of the spirit! And Pancho is on a mission now! Wow...time flies. She started crying and she said that she has never forgotten me..she knows I was there for a small amount of time, but she said that if I hadn't of been there she probably wouldn't have been baptized. She said that she saw that God worked through me in her life. It was very humbling. I was so happy that I went back to see her. I have never forgotten her either because her conversion is something so important and special to me. It was especially important to me because my companion in that time was very disobedient and I struggled a lot for that reason, but I tried my best to be 100% obedient and the blessings came.
I love the mission!!!!!!!!!!!!! GRRRRRR.....
Alright, well I will see you soon.
Wait, tender mercy- Being able to do some interchanges this week for the last time ever. I was able to have some great working days and raise my voice like the sound of a trumpet. I know that they were a tender mercy from God. I love this work.
Bye for the last time!
-Tano and Barbara from BIO BIO! They showed up in Hualpencillo (my ward) randomly! It was good to see them.
-Lota...like I said, jam-packed!
-After the lesson with Daniela, Maria Jose, and Alejandro, from Los Alamos, with the sister missionaries.
-Same picture, but I thought you would all enjoy the face of my companion.
-Elder Strait dumped cereal all over himself....the funniest part is that he did it WHILE he was making fun of me :D
-Beach of Lota
-With the Rivera family, Sister Rivera, Andrea, me, Oliver, Carla, and a member from the ward, Kote.
-With MARIA AND VICTOR!! :)
-Playing basketball this morning with the assistants and officer workers from the Concepcion mission. We have played some Saturdays in the morning. I was in the MTC with Elder Miller, he is a great guy. He is the really muscular one apart from Elder Strait. Ha ha. Elder Fuller, the really tall one, played for the U of U before the mission. He won every single game of 21 that we played.
-Me and Elder Strait in the office.
-Pretty church in Lota.