I have some things to talk about from last week that I forgot to talk about. Elder Gonzalez from the first quorum of the 70 visited us last week. Our mission is going really slow for baptisms, and it looked like we needed the area president to come and lay down the law with us. And boy, did he lay down the law. I can agree that we are low. We have finished 8 of 12 months, and for the entire mission of 208, there has only been about 23 baptisms. But I’ll admit that I’ve started doubting that it is possible to baptize here in Chile. Elder Gonzales had something else to tell us. He explained to us that our purpose as missionaries is to baptize. We can reactivate and we can retain, but if we don’t baptize, there is no growth in the church. There was 5 zones in the meeting with him, and he asked each and every one of us to come together and think of a way to teach a specific circumstance about the day of rest, then he called representatives to the front to present their ideas in a practice, Sister Gonzales being the investigator/less active/convert. The missionaries taught a little weak, but not too bad (doing a lot better than I would have), until the third practice, when the circumstance was an investigators that sister missionaries had been teaching for 3 years and would not come to church. They did the practice, and then the sister and Elder Gonzalez started tag-team destroying the sisters, telling us that we should NEVER have an investigator that is 3 years old and that we need to teach with a lot more boldness than what we are doing. Elder Gonzalez got a little mad, I think. He started jumping around in his scriptures, teaching one principle, then another, then another, then another, so fast that I gave us trying to write them down and just sat back with my comp and watched. Spectacular.
We as a mission are being redirected to being much bolder in our teaching. This Sunday was an example of that. We don’t get much support from the leadership of our ward, and they gave us the chance to stand up and talk. Elder Young and Elder Lucas spoke, Elder Young about callings and Elder Lucas about the day of rest. Wow. They had some strong things to share. The spirit was there and they said it to try to help them because they loved them, but there was a lot of bowed heads and shifty eyes. I was sitting on the stands, and I could see how everyone was reacting. This Sunday, I finally tried playing the piano during sacrament meeting. It was… interesting. I didn’t do too well. To be fair, it has been about 3 years since the last time that I have touched a piano with the idea to play it, but I ended up playing all of the songs with my right hand alone, and one with just one finger. We also did a special musical number, which was really fun, but I butchered the song.
The Law-Laying continued in the night when we went to a less-active’s house and shared with him. He is a returned missionary with 4 boys, the oldest around 14 or 15, who has been inactive for some time and has had little progression. He loves to talk, and whenever he talks to us, he loves to brag about his knowledge of the gospel and his experiences as a missionary. He can be a little taxing on the patience, but it’s good for me. We went with another family and taught him about faith. We started nice and calm, teaching easy principles and “friendly” doctrine. Every step of the way, he loudly proclaimed his testimony of the church, of Christ, and expounded our teaching with long stories of our own. We kept treading along until my dear comp lead him to James 2, which is where James explains the faith without works is dead. He explained that his knowledge and faith would do nothing to save him if he didn’t change his actions now. I then read the verse about how the demons tremble. It was something like “You believe that God is one; you do well. The devils also believe, and tremble.” I then closed the book (that is what my comp told me; I had no idea) and said, “Jonathan, congratulations on having faith and knowledge. You have read a lot of scriptures and the Liahona (he had specifically mentioned the Liahona in his boasting), and you know that the church is true. YOU DO WELL. Now, what are you going to DO with your faith?” He was silent. We had actually made the man think. I think that in all of his time as a less active, never had he really doubted that he was going to get saved. What was cool, was that everything that we shared came from the Spirit. It was like we opened our mouths and let God say what he wanted to say. So, when we invited him to read, pray and attend church, they said that they would.
I have become fascinated with the Liahona lately. I really love studying what the prophets have to say. I am trying to read the Liahona from last conference before the next conference to prepare myself.
One other thing from last week: we got to go to the hospital to visit an investigator with her daughter. It was the second time that I have stepped into a hospital, but this time it was Soltéro del Río, which is a lot poorer. The woman’s name is Silvana, and she has a daughter named María de Jesús, if I am not mistaken, of about 2 years. We shared Alma 7:11-13, and we offered to give the little girl a priesthood blessing, but we weren’t allowed because it was too critical for her situation and they didn’t want to let us put the oil on her head. It was still a very nice experience.
Today, we did a barbeque in the grill in the “yard” outside of our house, and I finally tried that root-beer concentrate that you sent me from last Christmas. Or was it my birthday? Anyways, I have been carrying that stuff around forever, and I had no idea if it was good or not. I can now testify that it is good.
Also, I got the other package that you sent me. Thank you. I had no idea. I thought that I had gotten all of my birthday packages. The shirt made me laugh.