Alfonso’s house was… horrible. Yes, we wore gloves and masks. I can barely stand being there for an hour, let alone the two that we were there. It got a lot worse when I got closer to the cause. He owns a cat that poops right on the floor, and before his toilet didn’t work, so he had a bucket in his room for his… [unspeakable]. He told us that when it gets full, he just dumps it out the window. He lives on the third floor. He says that they don’t know, but I don’t buy it for a second. That might be part of why they want to get rid of him, other than the smell of the apartment being so strong that every time we go by, we have to go home and wash everything that we are wearing. It was quite the place. He can’t do anything about it. He can barely walk, so he certainly doesn’t have the force that it takes to clean it. I think that he also doesn’t have any income. Every time we go there, he starts asking us favores of varying degrees, sometimes monitary, and sometimes he asks us to take him places. On Wednesday, after finishing to clean his house, we took him three blocks to pick up lunch from a homeless shelter. It took 30 minutes just to walk there. He is very stubborn and won’t use his cane, nor did he let us take him by the arm and escort him. It was pathetic. On the way home, while he was doing one of his frequent rests, I saw that a tear rolled out of his eye. I hugged the poor, dirty old man, and he mumbles, “I feel very alone.” We ended up going to his house twice, and we will go a third time to finish the job tomorrow.
I found the various reactions of the people in the street interesting as we walked with Alfonso. Some were what you would expect, which was that of sympathy. A few of the nobler ones were even empathetic, offering future help. But some were apathetic, shrugging their shoulders carelessly, saying that he walked the road almost every day alone, and didn’t need our help. A few were even a little hostile, as though the sight of two missionaries helping him out made them angry. I would never have thought that that would be a reaction of somebody who sees somebody else suffering like that. The man was literally so sick that he could barely walk, let alone carry his lunch, which will be his only meal of the day, and people are telling us to take a hike. I don’t completely understand it, really.
This week, we had stake conference, which took us a bit for surprise. I have seen 2 now in 3 months, which was kind of weird for me. We again went to all of the sessions, which were really quite excellent. Elder Viñas of the seventy and Elder Jimenez, who I think might be an area seventy, came, along with President and Sister Morgan. We had a change of stake president. 10 years ago, Elder Viñas came here to this stake to call our old president, and now he came back to release him. They spoke a lot of the works that we have. I really enjoyed the way that they put it. Elder Jimenez told a story about when he was a boy in the house of his grandmother, she would serve him a bowl of lentils, which he hated. She would then say, after he protested, “Eat them, or leave them. They are still lentils.” In the gospel, we can use it, or we can leave it. But we can’t change what it is, nor what Jesus said. Elder Viñas said, “If you accept the gospel or deny it, that is fine. That is up to you.” If we believe in the gospel, or if we believe that the gospel is something that it is not, that is fine. The way we look at the gospel does not change what it is. We can live it or not, but we can not hope to have the blessings of the gospel if we are not willing to live it.
Cesar did not come to church. He is fine, but he has a lot of opposition.
I taught an interesting district class yesterday. I asked during the numbers call on Friday for everyone in the district to think of a talent, which they would then present in front of the class to teach either about the temple, the missionary purpose, or the sabbath day within 5 minutes. A few protested, but I told them to do it anyways. On Monday, I had us all present our talent. I then went with them to Matthew 25:14-29, which is the parable of the talents. We read the first part, before the master returned, and I explained to them that we are all called to our sectors and our missions for 2 reasons: the first to learn something, but the second because we have each been given a number of talents that the Lord wants us to use to improve the area where we are in the unique way that only we could. We then finished the parable, and I then asked them a few questions: How many of the talents that you have have improved during your missions? How many new talents have you gained during your missions? How many of you have used your talents to help bless others in your missions? I then invited them to use their talents with creativity to bless those around them.
On Saturday in the night, we were picking up lunch, and I was in my suit and my nice shoes. A dog came up to me, looking friendly, so I started petting it. It seemed to really like it, but when I stopped, it went away. I must have petted it too well, because when I noticed it again, it was peeing on my shoe. Another first for my mission, and probably for my life.
Love you all. I’m praying for you.