March 8, 2016 (Week 91)

Yesterday in District class, we did a planning session similar to the one that we did 6 weeks ago in my other zone.  I explained the whole process to them, and then we made a vision and set goals and set some VERY demanding goals.  We have a goal of 50 baptisms within 5 weeks, which would be about 6 times more than what is normal for an entire zone in this mission, done by one district.  To achieve it, we as a district will have to set 20 baptismal dates every week, and we will have to do 75 invitations per companionship every day, making us having to contact a ton.  Being sincere, I am worried about the goals that we set.  They are theoretically possible, but taken in to account that there simply are not very many people in the streets to contact and invite to be baptized makes it… difficult.  But they wanted to do it, so I am willing to do all that I can to help them out.  I have gotten up to contacting 15 people in one day, I can do a little more, and continue to work on improving the quality of my contacts.

I’ll explain what I was talking about when I say “invitations”.  In the last zone, we measured contacts, and focussed almost all of our efforts on doing a higher quantity of contacts.  Last transfer, this zone was focused on invitations.  They counted the number of times that they extended the invitation to non-members to 1) read the Book of Mormon, 2) repent (pray, meet with the missionaries, etc.), 3) attend church, 4) attend church and 5) prepare to go to the temple.  They then called every night, asking for how many invitations were extended and what are the goals for the next day.  We continued doing that this transfer, and the average number was 17 invitations per companionships per day.  So imagine, the average was 17, and now we are asking for over 4 times that?  There just aren’t that many people in the street.  Normally there are always people in the street to contact here in Santiago, but in this zone there just isn’t anybody.  Why?  I don’t know.  But it has been a bit of a challenge for some time here.

We don’t get as many lunches here, so I have started having to cook for myself.  I totally am not complaining.  I have wanted to learn how to cook for some time, and I am finally getting the opportunity.  My companion loves to cook, so I am getting him to help me learn some Peruvian recipes.  That will be awesome, because Peruvians cook really well.

Cooking has been a meeting point for my companion and I.  He told me in our companionship inventory that he was initially intimidated by me, in part because of the experience difference and in part because of my blunt, raw way of saying things.  He is a very competitive guy and does not like the feeling of being the little one, so cooking has been a way for him to feel big again, since I know basically nothing.  We have also been going out to run together in the mornings.

I played the piano in sacrament meeting again, again using the simplified hymns.  It went well, due to being able to practice with a piano that Elder Call had bought and has in our house.  You need to hear this thing play.  I have never in my live met a tone deaf piano.  It plays single notes well, but about half of the chords are changed into a horrible squawk.  Honestly, it is like a cruel joke.  But at least I have something to practice on, even if it sounds awful.

There are still two investigators in our area that have a baptismal date, but one of them is new and the other moved away.  Victor, who had problems with the word of wisdom, is now living with his dad, so we will have to send the reference to the other missionaries.  The new one is called Paul, who is a VERY ghetto youth.  We set the date in the contact for the 26th of February, but we know almost nothing about him except that he has a girlfriend and that he was going to a birthday party when we contacted him.  He answered positively to all of our invitations, which makes me think that he was just being agreeable and that there was no real commitment, especially since he did not come to church and we have not been able to find him since.  Evelyn, the other person with a baptismal date, is going through some opposition.  Her active catholic mother listened to our conversation that we had with her when we set the date with her and got really mad, feeling that she would abandon the family and their traditions by being baptized in our church.  She also was busy all day long yesterday paying debts that were made to pay off a giant fine for having a marijuana plant in their house, which is the end of a long and uncomfortable story for her.

We felt that we were guided on Sunday as we visited a less active that desperately needed help.  Her mother was dying, weak from vomiting uncontrollably, just as we got to her house and called.  She was extremely stressed out, and when we offered to give her mother a blessing, she responded that her mother had already received one that she was in the hospital.  We then offered her a blessing, and she broke down in tears and invited us in.  We could not go into the house due to her husband being unreceptive, but we gave her a blessing, and then she went inside to get her mother (looks like she had lied to us) and we gave her mother a blessing as well.  It was a very emotional experience.  I felt her pain, and I started crying again.  She sobbed as she told about how the Lord always sent her the missionaries just when she most needed them, and how she was not doing her part for the Lord.

Today, we got home and I put my bags that contained my recently bought groceries on the counter and we left again to buy a little more food in the fair and to cut my companion’s hair, and when we got back, my food was gone.  Apparently, what happened was when we left, the other elders got back and threw away the garbage AND my food by accident.  My gosh, my patience that I have learned on my mission was put to the test.  I was so mad.  The good news is that they paid me back and we have a supermarket in our area, so we will be able to buy groceries again.  Kind of a funny experience.

Love you all.

Elder Mathewson

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