Question for his dad: Can you share a time this week where you felt particularly strong love for someone you were working with? Be it investigator, member, companion, someone on the street, or whatever?
It has always been easy for me to love my companion. Especially this one, because he is a fantastic companion who sincerely wants to learn and grow and get the most out of every moment. Even easier to learn to love those that I spend lots of time with. I have found that I can truly love: what is difficult is love truly. Or, in other words, I really love people. But it takes time, and if they do something wrong, or are slow in progression, or there is something else with which I can put a condition on my love, it is very easy for me to put it. On sister in particular, named Sister Lima, is difficult for me. We have not yet had a lesson with her without it ending with her yelling and crying and, for lack of a better word, bagging on the members in Chile. It can be tiring, and someone like that who tells us the same tired story every time we go by can be difficult to want to be around, especially for me. So, I have to put myself in their shoes. There are two practical things that I do to try to come to love them. Firstly, I listen. I really try to understand what they are telling me. I try to understand everything, and understand what they want to say. I don’t judge: I try not thinking about what I will say. I just listen, only asking questions to understand better. Secondly, I make sure that this person knows that I love them. President Morgan said in a recent conference, citing Elder Packer (this was in Spanish, so I’m not 100% sure how it went), “If there was just one that that I wish that you could understand, it would be this: that testimony is gained through testifying.” Even if at times in that moment I actually don’t feel that I love that person, I say it anyways, trying to say it as sincerely as I can. In time, as I say it enough, I start to actually feel it, and when I love them, I feel the spirit whispering to me things that they need, and I can say it in a way that will open their heart and help them comprehend the love that the Saviour feels for them. I did this exercise last week, and by the end of the lesson she was calmer and committed to reading the Book of Mormon with her husband to bring herself to Christ. Or, in other words, in answer to your question, no; but I do have lots of little moments where I have had to learn to feel love for someone.
I have forgotten to tell you about the Guajardo family. That would be Jonathon, whose parents are in El Castillo where I started my mission, who is a returned missionary, and who, with his wife and 3 sons, are inactive members. Their progress has been astounding these last few weeks. After sharing that scripture with them from Santiago about the demons, we shared a few more times and kept working with them, bring members and working with the ward. 4 weeks ago the wife of Jonathon, Daniela, came to church. We went to her house in the morning to find her and bring her there. She left before classes, but it was still an acheivement. The week after, we went by their house again, this time not only for Daniela, but for her children. We had a family night with them, and in that family night they said two wonderful things: 1) that we would not need to go to their house to take them to church; that they would go themselves, and 2) that Jonathon had re-arranged his work schedule to be able to go with his family that Sunday. And they did come! It was fantastic. Again, with whatever progress that happens in the sector where I am working to the people that live there, I always feel very strong the it was brought about not by anything that I did right; only by the power of God and the proper use of that person’s agency. That is not to say that I was any less pleased to see them at church.
They didn’t come to church for conference, but they did watch it in their house.
I really enjoyed conference. I always do, and I always did, but conference as a missionary is even more enjoyable than I remember it in my house. Before, I was worried that I would lose that when I go home, but Elder Young, who has lived a few more years than I and has almost finished studying, says that he didn’t notice that big of a difference between the first conference in his mission experience and those in his house. That gave me a lot of hope, making me recognize that how I experience conference mostly has to do with how I prepare myself and very little to do with my own circumstances. Like normal, we turned it into a party (for example, I bought chips and salsa and chocolate to snack on between sessions), but more and more I enjoy listening and learning. This conference we had a new rule: which is that we can only listen to the session in English if we do not have an investigator, less active member or recent convert in the church during the session. I don’t know if it was good or bad, but I only missed one session in English, because only one family came, and just for Sunday morning. Good, because listening to the translation sucks; bad, because almost nobody came, even though we invited the entire world.
I had been really focussing on preparation for conference this time by carefully and prayerfully making questions and reading all of the last talks and trying to keep myself as close to the spirit as I could, and while being there getting there a little early to have time to meditate and settle in without stress; but I still feel I could have done more. In fact, if occurred to me that just as the general authorities always are preparing their messages and themselves for conference, so should we always prepare ourselves to receive what they have to offer us. I feel like that the time to start preparing oneself for the next session is when the last one finishes; that’s part of the reason they give us those two-hour breaks is for more meditation, and that if we come prepared, we can have our questions answered more literally than we thought possible. While this type of preparation would be very difficult to do during one’s mission, it would work quite well as a guide and purpose to my studies afterwards. That is another thing that I have been worried about, because scripture studies are so good during one’s mission because a missionary always has something specific to study about, and I worried that I would have nothing. But now I think that the best thing I can do to study with a purpose would be study in preparation for general conference: searching for questions, seeking the spirit, and meditating in what was said during the last one.
Paola, the woman with whom Luis is cohabiting, has had a lot of progress. She was pretty upset after a poorly handled interview with the bishop, and she had already been deeply damaged by bad comments and thoughtless members in the ward; but when we went to talk to her to set an appointment to pass by their house, she was a changed woman. I had already thought I had noticed a change in her, but last night she specifically said “thank you” to us for our concern for her and for a few of the things that we have been sharing with her to help her, which, together with help that she is receiving from a psychologist and a very caring member that is helping her focus on prayer, fast, study and genealogy, she was able to receive an answer by the spirit of how to be healed.
We are focusing a lot on contacting now. That has always been my weakest point in missionary work, and it just so happens that it is Elder Young’s as well. So, based on the invitation that the Zone Leaders gave us yesterday in Zone Class we set a VERY faith-filled goal of baptisms (10 by the end of next change, which is near the end of November), we have dropped all of the investigators and less actives that don’t progress and have put them in the hands of the ward and the Lord, and we are contacting a ton. I guess we will see how that goes, won’t we? I learned yesterday that, while a missionary should be involved in retaination and reactivation, his first responsibility is baptism, and he acts as supplementary aid to the ward for the weaker members. So, in accordance to that, we are going to see if we can’t find some people who actually want to progress.
Love you all. Even though it is almost always hard, I am really trying my best. Glad to be out here.