Today was a big day. We had a meeting at 9, but we had to be there at 7, and it was an hour away, so we got up at 5, which is an hour and a half earlier than normal. The reason was that we had two missions meeting together, the Este Mission and the Norte Mission, that were getting a visit from Elder Nelson, de los Doce. We have known about this meeting for a long time, so we were pretty excited to go. There ended up being just under 500 missionaries in the chapel. You can imagine how loud it got, while everyone was going around and finding their old CCM friends and laughing and talking and generally carrying on in a very un-missionary, unholy din. They shushed us 3 times, asking us to go outside to talk, but it did almost nothing. They ended up putting on a video of all the temples around the world put to EFY music, and then they shut up. Only with Mormons.
Elder Nelson looks pretty good for being 90. He walked fairly confidently, and he shook every one of our hands, looked us in the eye, and said “Good Morning” very prophetically. There was also a 70 there (Elder Viñas, I think. I can´t remember. I was thinking about other things) and his wife, and of course our mission presidents.
Sister Nelson gave a pretty good talk about the Spirit World, telling us it literally had a fence separating the repented from the unrepentant, and all the dead were waiting for us to do their work, but they don´t like to be called dead. It actually was a bit of a guilt trip for all of us, realizing that a true convert meant not just the baptism of the living soul, but generations of ancestors as well, so if we don´t work as hard as we can, we are letting a LOT of people down.
Elder Nelson basically just skipped through the Guía para el Estudio de las Escrituras, which is a study guide comparable to the topical guide only found in the Spanish Book of Mormon, pointing out 10 topics that he thought were of worth for us to study. He also told us his purpose as a member of the 12 was to teach pure doctrine, which made me consider everything he said to be gold.
We have this member named Hna Delia. She´s been a member for longer than anyone can remember, and she has a goal to visit the temple. The Bishop asked us to visit with her to help her prepare, because although she attends every week, she has no testimony. The thing is, she is literally insane.
Let´s start with how she looks, dresses and acts. I know, it´s superficial, but I´m a visual person. Honestly, she´s almost a cartoon. She dresses the same every day: matching fleece sweater vest and pants, the vest has a zipper that she does up all the way to the top, and another long sleeve shirt she wears underneath. She wears glasses on the very end of her nose, so she walks around with her head placed and tilted back so she can look through them. She has a long braid that she dyes bright red, and it´s always perfect, except for her bangs which fly around her face. You can smell her from about 15 feet away because she washes her hands with a mix of bleach and soap because she is a germiphobe. She has a mouthful of broken teeth, which is fairly common here, but it never closes.
All right, now, that sounds bad to judge her. But I really find I don´t have too much of a problem with people when I´m around them for long enough in this way. The problem is the lessons. Firstly, she tries to get us into her house without a man there EVERY SINGLE TIME. We´ve told her, we can´t come in without a man, and that it is a rule from the prophet, but unless we remind her of that, she just lies to us. Then, the lesson, she spends the whole time trying to get us to drink juice. I mean, I appreciate that she is trying to be charitable for the poor babies away from their mothers in a big scary country, but after a liter and a half of peach juice, you get a little sick of it. And when we try to teach her, she doesn´t pay attention. One time, we asked her if she ever felt the prompting of the spirit. She told us a LONG story about this one time she was on the way to church, she saw 12 birds, which were, and this is literally all she said, the 12 commandments, and she saw some butterflies, and she knew from this that her sister had died.
It´s a test of patience and humility. People here really like talking to us for a long time, but when it is as strange as can be, it´s hard sometimes to feel patient enough to feel the spirit and humble enough to love them. Yes, I judge her, and oh yes, I pray for help. We have a lot of challenging people we deal with here, but she was the first one that leaped to mind.
This p-day was probably the last p-day we will have with one of the Elders we´ve been living with since we got here, Elder Cisneros, as he´s been in the sector since he got here almost a year ago, so we went even farther North, switched trains, and then took a bus ride to get to the Tortilla factory to celebrate his Mexican-ness. You can imagine how tired I was after so much standing in trains and buses, so I can tell you I will sleep well tonight.