Oh my family and friends.... I think only those that have been missionaries can really understand how wonderful it is to get letters. It feels SO good. Thank you for the updates, inspirations, and support!!! - and in english! THANK YOU!!
Hermana Bautista and I continue to chug along.... trying to conquer our territory. This week has been a total roller coaster... as is this life!! Like Elder Holland said to missionaries....
¨Why should you expect this to be easy when it wasn´t easy for Him? The road to salvation carries with it a cross.¨
I am trying to be grateful for every experience I have. Truly... these experiences have really caused me to seriously reflect on those basic but precious fundamental principles of the gospel.... and especially the plan of salvation. Even in the last few weeks... my perspective, understanding, and conviction of where we were BEFORE this life, WHY we´re here, and what is to come AFTER..... is changed and strengthened. Missions aren´t ¨sacrifices¨- not possible when we get back so much more than we could ever give.
Our zone had interviews with President Lopez this week- such a tender mercy... because I had some questions weighing pretty heavy on my heart. I continue to have those specific concerns about... a true change of heart. I worry about so strongly encouraging someone into the waters of baptism... that they´re doing it more for me than for their testimony, fire in the soul knowledge that THIS IS TRUE. I realize that not all investigators are going to be like Kyle Brown the day of their baptism... and that baptism is our first step for a lifetime/eternity of learning.... but the pain that I´ve seen and felt in the lives of those that have fallen away from these truths after baptism... is sometimes so heavy that I struggle to get myself off the floor and out of their house. Like it says in Alma 24:30- the hearts of those that have fallen AFTER they have received this enlightenment.... are so much harder. Of course I´ve met people like this before... even in my own family... but to face it in the shoes of a missionary... sometimes it´s a baby bit traumatic for me. (but honestly.. not as hard as in the perspective of family.)
YET... on a positive note.... there are so many people here that uplift me the second I see them. Such as... my dear friend that we shall call in this letter.... Victor. Victor is my inspiration. SO much like how I imagine Captain Moroni when he had 17 years. Victor was baptized when he had 14 years... and is going SO strong. I can´t explain or express the purity and light in his face... but it´s incredible. His siblings were baptized 9 years ago... but weren´t active. (until now!! :) ) His parents are seperated... and not members. We´ve been working with his dad... ¨Pablo¨. He is such a nice man... so sweet... and he knows. He knows this is true... we´ve been with him... kneeling in prayer... and felt the Spirit SO STRONGLY confirm the truthfullness of this message.... but the painful part is.... he still doesn´t want to change. He has... a dirty little secret... and it is so hard for us to address... and even harder for him to want to change. He has a serious problem with the law of chasity... and despite his acknoweldgement with the VERY clear commandments from the Lord throughout the bible... he just... wants to wait to be baptized. To hear Victor try to teach his father... counsel... and even boldly scold his father in such love and tenderness........ is really touching to witness. Victor SO BADLY wants an eternal family- he truly has that perspective.... and to see Pablo dance around this reality... is really heart breaking. We´re not sure how much more time we can spend with this. This is a common case from the last few weeks- people have read, and prayed, attended church... obtained confirmation and knowledge................ but don´t want to change.- and almost all is with the law of chastity. (I meant to make this story inspiring and focused on the glory of Victor... but... this is also part of the story- his father.) I can´t express how much I love Pable... how much I see in Pablo... but no matter how much faith I have in the Savior, and the hope that I have through the Atonement for Pablo..... we cannot change his agency.
Hermana Bautista is really struggling with this too. We walk away from some appointments... and she is welled up with tears. I am continually trying to express my love for her.... but I´m not enough. Truth is.. we´re hitting some walls left and right.... but maybe because I´m green... or whatever... I still have so much hope here. There are so many members of the ward that are SO SO SO STRONG- I KNOW that the Atonement is real... and that change is possible. We´re determined to find those that are TRULY prepared... to use our time FINDING those that desire these blessings in their life... and are willing to follow the Savior in their lives. I keep dreaming (like every other missionar) to find that King Lamoni that says, ¨I will give up everything I have to know the truth!¨
There are so many religious people here... I thought they´d be a little more receptive to the words of the Lord. We are finding lots of people that attend church- churches that we can hear all the way across town- bellowing out their expressions of praise and dedication for ALL to hear from all corners... but when we invite these people to personally pray.... they tell us they can´t- that.... they don´t know how. It is so sad to me to see that they´re uncomfortable to converse with their Heavenly Father. Even if these people don´t accept that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that the Church that Christ established is again here for us................ I am determined not to leave their house until I have done everything in my power..... to help make God more real for them. To help them know that He truly listens to their simple and sincere prayers... that they CAN PRAY.
I forgot thanksgiving! My zone leader from Arizona called that night to say ¨Happy Thanksgiving¨- and I totally melted to hear something so familiar. Yet... don´t get me wrong- I LOVE spanish... and MANY things about the culture here. It´s getting better and better and more natural.
This week the ward is busing up to Guatamala to take a soon to be missionarty to the CCM and attend the temple. The buzz and fervor about the temple is contagious... and a bitter sweet for me. I miss the the temple SO SO SO much. I am continually more and more excited for the dedication of the temple here- and it´s become more for the people here. Oh how they love the temple and relish every opportunity to learn, talk, and visit it. I am SO grateful for the focus my parents made the temple in our family and my life. Thank you!
The youth of this generation are truly the examples for this whole area. They are SO strong. When so many of their parents have fallen away... are breaking the law of chasity... drinking every night..... with darkness all around them... they beam out so brilliantly. I am so humbled by their examples.
Kylene! You´re leaving SO SOON! I need your mission address! Send it to my family, please love?
The other day... we walked by a man sitting alone with his head down. I thought his was praying... and was really excited to use that opportunity to answer his fervent prayer an question. I ran over, ¨Hermano! Como esta!¨.... oops... he wasn´t praying. Just severely drunk.
Thus is this beautiful life!
Love you all!!