January 12, 2016 (Week 83)

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Us after serving. We are blocking the pile of garbage that we made, that once was a house. It is about 8 feet tall, and it is 1 of 3.

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We found a ton of creepy dolls in there. Not a single one that I would personally be willing to snuggle with. Also, my face got really dirty because I tore drywall from the ceiling of a room with a crowbar, and all the dust came raining down on me.

The ward is finally starting to work on a ward mission plan.  It isn’t perfect how it is working out, but at least it is happening.  I feel personally that we as missionaries have been too involved in the process, but the problem that we have seen is that if we don’t do everything that we can, nothing happens.  The challenge has been finding the limit of how much we should help, because we don’t want to overstep ourselves and start doing things that are not part of our calling.  At least, unless we are asked to do it.  This week, we have been meeting with every leader in every organization that we could find to help them prepare for the ward council on Sunday.  We explained to them 1) the importance of members and missionaries working together in missionary work 2) the importance of ward council (and staying focused) and 3) the importance of the ward mission plan, along with how it is created and an invitation to begin thinking of what they would like to see and what goals and plans they would like to set in the plan.  It would have worked a lot better if, firstly, the ward was doing it, and secondly, if we had done it in December or November when we should have, before everyone left for vacations.  We then planned with our ward mission leader and a member of the bishopric on what we were going to say in the ward council, and we thought that all we would have to do after that would be attend (the stake president, the mission president, the area authorities AND Elder Cook have all asked that the missionaries participate in leadership meetings in the wards, but our ward has been very reluctant to let us stay).  HOWEVER, that was not to be.  Sunday came, and we got to the council, and things started well.  Two good things came from us meeting with the members of the council before hand: 1) we knew the individual needs of every member, as well as the concerns that they had and the potential problems they might cause and 2) the leaders came much more motivated and better prepared for the council.  We were well focused, following the suggested minute in manual 2, but it was in the last 15 minutes that we had before church started that we finally got to the ward mission plan.  The bishop explained that we weren’t going to finish it today, then looked over at us missionaries and told us that we were to direct the plan.  That is kind of a problem, because it needs to be the WARD mission plan, not the missionaries mission plan, and red flags were already getting raised that a similar problem to what happened in Chayavientos would repeat itself there, and we would set goals and make plans that the ward would have no desire to keep.  I ended up standing up and directing it, but I told them first everything that I thought was happening wrong.  We had very little time, but we wrote down a vision, and we gave them the goal to think of goals based on this vision (numbers, preferably, that we can use to achieve the vision that we have), and plans based on our goals.  It was kind of fun to direct, but the lack of initiative worries me a great deal about the success of the ward.  The bad ward council meetings is only a small part of a much bigger problem.

I can’t remember if this was last week or the week before, and if I told this story.  If I did, I am sorry, because I am going to tell it again.  The other day, we did the funnest service project EVER.  There is a less active in the ward that has an old, destroyed house on her property in front of her real house.  My companion, bold as ever, offered to tear it down for her, and she accepted.  So, we came another day with the other elders and a youth to be able to go into her real house to change clothes, along with a few hammers and crowbars, and got to work.  Dad probably would have been ashamed of all the nails that we left in the boards, ready to get stepped on, but we had a great time.  We basicaly just removed enough support to be able to push the walls down, one by one.  Every once in a while, we would have to tear off drywall or cut electrical cables, and there was a lot of old clothing and furnature in there.  We only found 2 recluse spiders, and even though they were huge, it was still a relief to not have to deal with them too much.

We are at the beginning of a new transfer cycle, and I am staying, but my companion will be going to the far south end of the mission, in a zone named “Cordillera”.  His new companion is named Elder Rose, who none of us know, but from the sound of his accent, either is very new, or has lived with gringos his whole mission.  I will be with Elder Valsquez.  I do not know anything about him.  I am a little nervous.  This will be the first time that I am the missionary that is staying in the sector while my companion is going.  I am grateful, however, that I wil be with another latino.  I’ll be telling you about him next week.

Love you all.

Elder Mathewson

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