I have less time to write than normal because of some complications that we had. I’ll try to get everything in.
Sounds like fun, the Halloween party! I would have liked to participate as well. Not to party, so much, as to help decorate. You know me.
I have decided that the smell of poverty is a little like urine. That has a little to do with the weird thing that happened to me this week. There is a man in our sector named Alfonso. He and his house have to be the dirtiest that I have seen in my entire life. You can smell them both within 10 feet. We went to his house TWICE this week. Flies. Old food. Year old grease on the floor (he told us the rate at which he cleans his house.) Nasty. He himself has not bathed since I have met him (nor before, from what it looks like). He is constantly drooling yellow liquid, he has a green stain on his hair that is who knows what, and, worst of all, he has a hernia the size of a football coming out of… on his left leg. I do not exaggerate. The poor guy is very alone. His wife died years ago, his children couldn’t care less about him, and neighbours want to get rid of him as soon as possible (I am sure because of the smell.) After going to his house, we had to wash all of our clothes, because we smelled like him and his house. It was NASTY. We are going to do a service project tomorrow of trying to clean his house. I am sure that it will be memorable enough that I will write you guys about it next week.
I feel the endurance. Some times it is like I am putting up with my mission instead of living it to it’s fullest, but usually I am really enjoying my mission. I have a feeling of being on a downward slope and I know that I don’t have too much time left, so I am relaxing, not letting myself get stressed and focussing on the little things and taking one day at a time. I think that the last few months of my mission will be the funnest so far.
Two awesome things this week. The first is that the man named Cesar that I told you about last week came to church! It was tough. He was kind of like Adam, where he felt ashamed at our coming for feeling unworthy next to us, but we really focused on explaining to him that a) we are here to help, not judge and b) we are all sinners, just in different ways. He felt our love. He said that the way he feels when he talks to us is uncomparable: it is better than any drug that he has tried. So when he came to church, we were ecstatic. He came in the car of a brother, with the old suit that was given to him by that same brother, in the shoes donated by a member, in the shirt that we gave him and my tie that I donated (it was one of the ties that I bought 18 months ago in the Missionary Mall). He didn’t have any of those things.
The other thing that happened was the district class that I got to teach. The stake also has problems with local leadership, so I decided to teach a class about the importance of local leaders. I did it a little different than normal. I started with a few object lessons and set the context of the class. The first object lesson that I used was I asked for a volunteer, who I had hold a plastic shopping bag in one hand. I then proceded to throw ping-pong balls at the bag, which were difficult to catch, as the bag naturally closes when held that way. I then asked the volunteer to hold the bag in two hands, and I again threw the ping-pong balls. Obviously, with two hands it was easier to hold open the bag, and all of the ping-pong balls were caught. I then did a second illustration. I drew a simple rope bridge over an abismo. I asked them what they noticed about the bridge. What I was looking for was that the bridge had to connect to the cliff in at least two places, and it was only as strong as the weaker of the two. I then explained where I was going with the class, and shared with them the story that President Morgan shared with us in Puente Alto, which is that when he left his house, he left a good part of his valuable stuff in a vault in the bank. This vault has two keys: President Morgan has one, and the other is possessed by an employee in the bank. The vault can only be opened and the valuables accessed if both keys are inserted and turned at the same time. He had explained to us that in missionary work, there are two keys. He has one, and the local stake president has the other. The treasure of missionary work can only be accessed and the lock opened if both keys are used at the same time. I then sat down and asked, “Now, I want to know what you think. What can we do to be better at working with members?” I was amazed how the spirit guided our meeting as everyone shared. Because of the spirit, I noticed that the responses that came from the experiences of the other missionaries generally had something to do with blessing the members, so we ended up with 3 specific goal that we will try this next week. The first is studying PMG chapter 13 about working with local leaders, thinking about how to help the local leaders work in unity to raise entire families more effectively and cause a more lasting impact in our wards. The second was doing practice lessons with member after lunches for the friends and neighbours of said members to help them catch the spirit of missionary work, and the third was trying to make every lesson a lesson with a member present. That last one is possible, but it will be hard.
Love you all. Can’t believe that it is already November. I feel like this month and the next one are going to fly. If I feel like I have little time left now, I can only imagine how I am going to feel after the new year.