I had a hard lesson on charity this week. We contacted a future investigater who turned out to be a dud. He was the kind that talks a lot about his knowledge of the scriptures. He only wanted to fight us and didn’t want anything. In fact, the perfect chapter from the Book of Mormon would have been 2 Nephi 29, but he didn’t even want to take it, saying that the bible had everything he needed. I soon lost my patience and wanted to go, but my companion stuck it out a little longer. I started getting curt, and the man noticed, even though he didn’t say anything. I was ticked at the man for being stubborn, hypocritical and blind, and I was ticked at my comp for wasting time with him. It was very wrong. When we left, my comp said some things that I have heard several times but I have never come to know how to control. When I get mad, it comes out of me. I speak different and my face changes, especially if I start trying to “be bold”. I lacked charity for the man, because, while I can love someone with all of my heart once I get to know them, it is difficult for me to want to get to know them and want to love them. This has been a struggle almost all of my mission, but as I talked with my companion, I started to understand what I lacked a little more.
My problem is that I had always thought of charity wrong. I had thought of it as the embodiment of all other attributes of Christ, and to develop it, one had to develop all of the others at the same time. What I realized is that it is just the opposite. One can not have even one of the attributes of Christ until he has charity. So what does it mean to have charity, I need to develop other attributes that are fundamental to charity. I decided to start with empathy. Empathy means understanding other people, which can not be done if I do not ask about them and listen. So that is what I will do. I will focus a lot more on trying to understand who the person is and be patient in the process.
A lot of our old investigaters either stopped progressing or we stopped visiting them, but I do still have a few successes to tell you about. We have been working with the leadership in this ward, trying to animate them and help them understand their responsibilities to get them more involved, especially respecting missionary work (obviously). We are especially working on getting the leaders for Ward Council, which my companion has lovingly called “Once de Barrio” (which means “Ward Elevensies”, because basically all they do is plan the ward activity and eat.) I have not actually gone to a ward council yet, which is not very good, considering that I have been here 2 months. And there are a few problems that desperately need to be resolved, not the least of these being the lack of Ward Mission Plan and the fact that we recently received the Area Plan, which was written and sent at the end of November last year. The success came because, even though basically all we doing is visit the leaders and explaining to them their importance and the fact that missionaries are really only there to help the members in missionary ward rather than the other way around, we are seeing real changes here. I have no idea why there is change, but we are seeing it. For example, the Bishop especially, with his councillors, have been very unmotivated, to the point of being a stumbling block for ward progress. Usually Executive Comitee is completely un-spiritual, un-productive and un-fulfilling. Usually, half of the priesthood leaders get there 30 minutes late if they come at all, which includes the bishop. However, this time the bishop came on time, started with a prayer (also has never happened) opened up Manual 2 and we worked our a rough Ward Mission Plan. It was awesome, and we were in shock. Hopefully this spirit of obedience and diligence continues, because we might start seeing a little more success.
Also, I played the piano again in sacrament! Man, do I wish that I had kept practicing. There is a young woman who is so desperate for music during the hymns in sacrament meeting that she found me a book of simplified hymns to play so that I wouldn’t screw up so bad. I still messed up a lot, but I really enjoyed playing, and by the end of the meeting I was almost playing perfectly. I don’t like doing this, but as a suggestion to mothers who are forcing their children to practice the piano: get them to the point where they can play the hymns, and then teach them as many hymns as you can. Even though it has been about 5 years since I played them, I still remember the hymns that I practiced before. My main problem is that it is kind of difficult to play with people singing along and I don’t know how to play too many hymns, which makes it more difficult.
It is very strange for me to think that Christian and Trevor are home. It makes me feel like a very new missionary, actually, like I still have a lot of time. Makes me excited to see them again. But I am very happy to be here, learning what I am learning.
That reminds me that I need to do the drawing for Robyn! D: I’ll get right on that!
Love you. Tell Zach and Robyn to write me.
Love you all.