March 15, 2016 (Week 92)

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More pictures from the Javiera Carrera zone.

Connor - March 15, 2016

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The district, with the necessary “good” photo and the unnecessary “goofy” photo. Looks like my companion didn’t get the memo on the “good” photo… Starting on the top left and going clock-wise, their names are Hna Chapman, Hna Hoer (pronounced “Her”), some nut, Elder Silvera my junior zone leader, Elder Alcantara, Elder Kelly my senior zone leader, Elder Call and Elder Tintaya my beloved companion.

I have a somewhat funny story from a few weeks ago.  This was in Javiera Carrera.  Here in Chile, there are a lot of Haitians that are immigrating for work purposes.  They are also some of the easiest to convert for the missionaries.  The only problem is that they often come here only speaking French.  This is obviously a problem, because very few people speak more than Spanish here, and those that are bilingual speak English, which the Haitians do not speak either.  So you can imagine the problems with teaching.  I have not yet gotten to teach a Haitian, but I did get to do a baptismal interview with one.  All that I can say is that now I am regretting not taking my French class seriously enough in middle school.  It was really hard.  Between drawings and scriptures from a French Book of Mormon, I struggled to communicate the questions to the lady, but I had to go a little by the “spirit of the law” a little and give her a lot of benefit of the doubt, because I think that I did not get her to understand everything perfectly.  I understand a little bit better how the Chileans must have felt when I first got here, which was not that different from how I felt as a new missionary.  Man, do I want to learn French.

My new contact record is 17.  I am going for 20, and I will see how many I can do by the end of my mission.  We also finally have a new ward mission leader, and had our first missionary coordination meeting in months.  He proposed a goal of 20 baptisms a year, but we shared with him our goal of 20 baptisms a week and he seemed impressed and said, “Yeah, why not?”  He is a cool guy.  He has had almost all of possible callings under the stake level, including stake president, and is really excited to work with us, with big plans for the ward.

The other baptismal date in this area fell due to the fear that Evelyn has of her catholic mother and her disapproval of her baptism.  She has started avoiding us.  There is now nobody in the ward with a baptismal date.  Thus the focus on contacting.

The coolest thing that happened this week was a little unexpected find.  We were contacting a lady, when another lady stopped in her car and waved us over.  We finished the contact and came over to speak with her.  She explained that she and family had recently moved from the north of Chile to Santiago and had been mistakenly attending the ward “Los Toros”, which is just beside us.  She asked that we pass by her house to give her baby a blessing and explain where and at what time is the church.  We set a time to pass by that night.

Her name is Andrea, and her husband David.  They have 4 children, all girls, the youngest of which is 6 months old.  Andrea has been a member all of her life and is currently active, and David is not a member, however has been investigating the church forever (about 8 years), however he too regularly attends church.  David is in his second marriage.  He is a philosophy professor in a high school, and his problem is that he basically thinks through things too much.  Also, he doesn’t like tithing, and his lack of faith keeps him from being able to receive an answer.  We had a very spiritual lesson that night (Andrea was giving us little thumbs up when David wasn’t looking) and yesterday, we had a family night with the Sandoval family, who is a very strong family with an ex-bishop head and children about the same age, and that lives within two houses of our new incomplete family.

Also, we had a special multi-stake conference for all of Chile with a broadcast from the conference center, presided by President Nelson.  Did you know that he speaks Spanish?  I did not, but it turns out that he lived in Chile for a few years when we worked at the Universidad Católica (I think) teaching doctor stuff.  That is really cool.

Love you all.

Elder Mathewson

 

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

March 1, 2016 (Week 90)

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Here is a picture of my gross feet that are dirty from the dust that we walk in that seeped through the wholes on the bottom of my shoe. This was taken a few months ago.

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Firstly, my shoes.  If you remember, I was sent with 2 pairs of shoes from missionary mall, both of which were guaranteed that if they did not last the two years, I could send a picture to them and they could give me a new shoe.  Well, one pair, under the brand-name “Propét” died a few months ago.  I am still using them becuase they still protect my feet fine, but I have holes in the bottom.  It is possible that they can be used to get Ethan a new pair of shoes.  The other pair that I have, “Dansko” are lasting really well.  I would suggest that when he goes to buy shoes that you don’t buy anything by “Propét”, and instead buy “Dansko”.  My “Propét” lasted me 1 year 6 months using it every other day, which is pretty good, but the “Dansko” have lasted until now and still are water tight.

It has been pretty fun to live with Elder Call.  He is a very cheerful missionary.  He is always in a good mood, always willing to help or to talk.  We sit around in our free time occasionally and chat about Utah and skiing and whatnot.

Our proselyting area is big, but not that big.  It is very spaced out, and does not have many streets.  It also has very few people walking around in the street during the day, leaving us with very few people to be able to contact.  It is also on the mountain, which in Santiago means that we have the richer neighbourhoods within our proselyting area.  I am actually not 100% comfortable sharing with the people from those houses.  They act differently than the people down below, and even though they are still good people, I am not sure what to say all of the time.  The economic level in the richer part of Santiago is similar to the middle-upper class in Calgary, and the very richest is similar to the very richest in Calgary.

There is very little going on here in El Labrador.  When I came, the missionaries did not have too many investigators.  This can be understandable, as I left my area very much like that.  What worries me is that there are some things that are happening that aren’t exactly following the spirit of obedience.  The 4 of us eat lunch together.  We have a family home evening together without an investigator.  We aren’t contacting (my companion told me that before, they contacted 50 people as a companionship a day, but that is not something that changes day to night, so I kind of doubt it).  They are resistant to obeying the little rules that President has given us, like not using a backpack or making sure that President always knows where we are on P-day.  A couple times, I have been surprised and a little disappointed when my companion started making fun of me for doing my best to be obedient with things like following the new schedule that we have been given or trying to eat lunch with less active members as we have been asked to do on a number of occasions.  It leaves me with the doubt: if there is little progress going on in this area, is it possible that there was also little obedience in this area?  Time will tell.  I asked the zone leaders to see the numbers of the last change to see more or less how the last change looked.

This is not just a problem in my area (although this a weak ward in the stake), but in the whole zone.  Perhaps there was a reason that there was some kind of change that happened in every companionship except for the zone leaders a week ago.

There are a couple of people with baptismal dates.  One is named Victor, who is a 17 year old kid living in a poor part of the area that has problems with everything in the word of wisdom.  The other is a referral from the mission headquarters that immediately received us in her house, calmly accepted every commitment, and agreed to be baptized, come to church and read the first pamphlet (every time that she said “yes”, I became a little more stunned.  It is kind of weird when people want to listen to us and are willing to make changes in their lives).  Their names, respectively, are Victor and Evelyn.

Love you all.  I am always happy to hear about everyone’s progress.  I pray for you.

Elder Mathewson

February 23, 2016 (Week 89)

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One last group picture.

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Fotos de despedida del barrio jc Here are a few photos. These are from Brother Riffo, our ward mission leader.

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This was basically the same district as last change, but here is a photo anyways.

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The leadership of Javiera Carrera. You can also see how burnt I am getting. The sun in this city is STRONG

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Elder Tintaya. We seem to get along well. I am grateful for a Peruvian companion, because Peruvians generally speak well. I am not clear on how much time he has as a missionary, but I do know that he is 21, so I have yet another companion that is older than me. In fact, now that I am thinking about it, I don’t think that I have been the older companion once in my whole mission. Maybe the Lord wants me to grow up a little.

I got changes!  I am in the ward El Labrador B, Vicuña Mackenna (where we had the fireside last week).  The area is a little closer to the mountains, which means that I will be walking hills all day, and that the area is a little bigger.  Speaking frankly and slightly vulgarly, my buns are going to get HUGE!!  I actually have kind of a funny story with changes.  I was originally going to be in a threesome with Elder Tintaya, from Peru, and… Elder Call!  We got to my new housing and went to buy groceries, but when we got back, President called us and told us that we were going to have an emergency change due to an extra mini-missionary that was coming to serve unexpectedly.  So I am now only with Elder Tintaya, and Elder Call is with another Peruvian called Elder Alcantara.  I was his companion for 3 hours.  At least he will still be living in the same house, and he is down to run with me, which is rockin’.

Not that surprisingly, I was not that sorry to see Elder Velázquez go, but I was a little shocked that there was a mixture of feelings at all.  I had it really set in my head that we were going to stay as companions until he finished his mission in 5 weeks, but looks like it was not to be.  He is now in El Castillo B.

Turns out that he was pretty effected by the district class that I taught last week.  He accused me of “taking all of someone’s faults and teaching them to others” and asked me to worry about myself.  It also had a big effect on the other’s in the district, but one sister said that it was an answer to her prayers, and another mentioned that she struggles with many of the things that I taught in the class, and expressed her desire to overcome them.  It all depends on attitude, I guess.  I spoke with President about it afterward, and he told me that what I was doing was not about chewing out my companion, but saving a life.  To put it simply, if he can not change, and if he does not start doing what President asks him to do, President has no need for him here and will send him home.  Pray for him, please.

My new contacting record is 13 in one day.  I have stuck with the goal of 15 contacts a day for now, and hopefully next week I can get to 20, which is about at my cap, not wanting to sacrifice teaching lessons to contacting.

Looks like I will keep going as District Leader.  This will be my 6th change.  I am not complaining.  I like being district leader, and all of the pressure that I originally felt is almost gone, because I have gotten used to it and almost don’t feel it.

I love you all.  Can’t wait to see you again.

Elder Mathewson

February 16, 2016 (Week 88)

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Elder Laxton goes home next week. He was my zone leader for a change when I was in Puente Alto, and then was put as assistant. He is going to get married right away. There is a girl that is waiting for him, and they have been talking about it. He is a very good missionary.

Veronica dropped us.  It wasn’t too much of a surprise.  She felt a lot of pressure and opposition from her evangelic pastor and her family to not listen to us.  She actually ended up dropping us twice.  The first time, we gave her a pamphlet with our number to call us, and within the night, she had called us twice, the first time asking for us to come by again, and the second time to tell us that she didn’t want us to come.  We came anyways, and she explained that her pastor was kicking her out of the congregation, and her family was saying negative things about Joseph Smith (You can’t find him in the bible!), and her son was threatening to not come back to live with her like had been planned before.  It was too much for her, and despite the good feelings that she got when we came by, she didn’t want to continue.

On Thursday, I finally got to my goal of 10 contacts, so on Friday during our weekly planning session, I raised my daily contact goal to 15.  I also set the goal to contact bus-stops, public transportation and young people, because those are all things that scare me.  My current highest number of contacts is 12.

Since the time that President Morgan has gotten to the mission, he has started a monthly fireside in one of the 10 stakes.  When he does it, he gets the missionaries in the surrounding area to come and sing in the choir and give musical numbers.  On Sunday, it was in Vicuña Mackenna (pronounced a good deal like the song by Timon and Pumba from “The Lion King”), which is a stake right next to ours, and we got to sing in the choir.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  We made us come marching in at the beginning singing “Called to Serve” in Spanish, get to the stands and sing “Love at Home” in Spanish, then finish the fireside with “Love One Another” and go marching out singing “I will go where you need me to go” (I don’t know if I got all of those titles right).  The fireside was, frankly, trunky.  It was themed around love as it was Valentine´s day.  The funniest part was a woman seated on the front pew, filming the whole thing.  You would have thought that she was in a concert.  She sang along with the special numbers, she laughed when she was supposed to, she cried when she was supposed to, she moved around her bench to better film the presentation… I think that she was actually seated maybe 20% of the presentation.  It was very evangelical.  We all got a chuckle out of her sincerity, but I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty.  For her, that hour was a spiritual feast, and I think judging by the number of phones out that she was the only one that juiced every bit of wonderfulness of what we were doing.  I started to wonder if I was maybe a little bit like her granddaughter, who was seated apathetically beside her, texting, while she seemed to be taking the fireside as seriously as though Christ himself were speaking.  Why do I not find that much joy in something as simple as a fireside?

On Monday, I gave a more “traditional” District Meeting.  I usually try to give district meetings that are dynamic and interactive, with lots of testimonies and build up at the beginning to set a good mood.  But this time, I basically just stood up and shared scriptures and asked questions.  The purpose of the class was basically to call my companion and another missionary to repentence, obviously without stating it directly.  This was triggered when we started hearing some very negative things happening in one of the companionships of my district, one of whom will be going home this next week.  It is so bad that the sister that is going home will be doing exchanges for the majority of her last week so that she can get some work done and enjoy it.  Their situation is very similar to mine, and it triggered a fire similar to what I felt in Chayavientos.  I had to do my part so that this would not continue.  I addressed 3 themes: attitude, obedience and diligence, and unity.  I explained scripturally why each is important, and specifially what needed to be changed.  I spoke nicely, but I’ll admit that I basically condemned them both.  I was very honest, and I was told afterwards that I showed a lot of love and the spirit was felt strongly.  What I felt was raised blood pressure manifesting my stress.  I think that the class went well, but I was very worried about it and how they would take it.  I feel very strongly about what I talked about, and actually started crying when I spoke at the end of it about the atonement of Jesus Christ (4th time in my mission to cry, 3rd in this change).  It was an interesting experience.

Love you all.

Elder Mathewson

February 9, 2016 (Week 87)

My companion was not talking to me all week, so he naturally exploded at me during weekly planning.  I have developed a kind of slow take to these explosions, which come frequently.  I ask a lot of questions to find out what he is trying to tell me, even though he finds it aggravating, and I try to find out exactly where the root of the problem comes from, and what things I actually have to change and what not to.  The problem in this case was comunication.  Once I felt that I had reached the real problem, I told him how I felt and what I would do, and asked him for help to do it.  He would not give me help, and kept insisting on something very superficial and un-important.  I did not feel like that I needed to always be the one that was compromising, especially when what he was asking me to do was a style of working and was not necesarily wrong, nor even un-effective, and he just wanted me to change it because he did not agree with it.  So I told him no.  He got mad, things got a little heated, and I finally told him exactly what I felt about him.  I think that I handled the last part poorly, but I think that I learned the importance of being honest.  When I finally told him VERY frankly what I felt, he initially became hurt and defensive, but he felt that what I had said was true and he calmed down and even in the end thanked me for saying it.

We had interviews with president.  He did the interviews during the Zone Training Meeting, which was not normal.  We have that meeting regularily, but normally it is a little bit more casual.  This time, we had to come in suits.  He got the zone leaders to make a list of the order of interviews, and Elder Velázquez and I were put dead last.  I think that that was wise by the part of whoever did that.  We may or may not be the companionship with the most problems in the entire zone, and we needed the extra time with President.  After interviewing us separetely, he brought us together and told us that he was going to give us some commitments to do to help us with our relationship, because he felt that, frankly, what we were doing sucked.  He asked us to stop criticizing one another entirely.  We now should say something positive that the other did during the day as the last thing that we say together.  He also asked us to tell the other during the day something that we are trying to improve in ourselves, and ask the other for help in that thing.  I felt a little guilty.  I had already been doing what he asked us to do, but I feel that I had become quite critical with my companion, and often pointed out the things that I felt were wrong.  I was trying to help, but I could see that no help was being given.

The help I asked for was with contacting.  Last week, I contacted around 5 people daily.  My goal was 10, so this week I kept the goal the same and set some plans for how I would do better this week.  I have two plans: 1) when we plan our day, we typically write a person for every hour with a back-up plan.  Our area is not that big, so we often set plans to meet with someone that lives far away from our original plan, making us have to walk a lot.  In this time of walking away from a visit, I have to contact 2 people.  Preferably, they are the first 2 people that I see. 2) the scariest place for me to contact is in the trains/buses.  Naturally, my plan is to start contacting there.  I have to contact 1 person every time I go onto a train or bus.  I hope that if I can start doing something that scares the willies out of me, it will be easier to do something that isn’t so scary.  Or, in other words, I start contacting on public transit, and I will find it easier to contact normally.  Pray for me.  I am finding that it is quite a bit harder than anticipated.  I should have been contacting today, but I never did, getting choked up in fear.

I have noticed a few themes as I have been contacting more.  It seems like we are contacting the same 4 people over and over again.  There is, “Sorry, I am too busy to stop for a moment to speak with you two about Jesus Christ and how He can make me happier,” then there is “Hi, I’m Juan the Catholic, who is disilusioned by my own beliefs in the Catholic church, but am not willing to even think that maybe they aren’t the true church because I have always been Catholic,” and even better, “Hi, I’m José the evangelist.  I am not 100% sure what I believe, but I am willing to try to tear down your beliefs to defend it,” and of course, “Hi, I’m Carlos the athiest.  I believe in myself and the marajuana that I am smoking.”  We haven’t been having too much success.

Veronica, the woman that had a baptismal date for the 5th of March, has been receiving a lot of opposition ever since she started listening to us.  Twice this week, she told us that she can’t listen to us because of the negative things that she has heard said about us in her Pentacostal Evangelical congregation and her own family, and that she is scared.  The first time, we convinced her to keep listening to us, but the second time we gave her a pamphlet with our number and told her that when she was ready to pay the price that it took to receive all of the blessing that one receives in the only true church, to call us.  Our intention was to leave her and keep finding other people, but we under-estimated the power of anxiety, depression and schizophrenia, because she called us within the night twice, first asking us to come to help her stop feeling scared, then telling us not to come because her son threatened to leave her house if we came (he left a long time ago.  Empty threat).  We will be visiting her tonight.

Love you all.  I am doing the best that I can.  I write you a 10th of what is going on, we are so busy.

Elder Mathewson

February 2, 2016 (Week 86)

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This is incredibly gross. I cleaned out the drain at Alfonso’s house, because it was clogged with who know’s what, and lo and behold, I found a PLANT starting to bud out of the scum. Nobody could believe it.

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This is one of two almost-fired that happened in his house. The other was on the stove. We quietly through the whole mess away, assuming that there was nothing worth salvaging.

One technical question.  I have been meditating a little about how I am going to gain money when I get home.  What suggestions do you and dad have for me?  I was thinking about continuing at the golf course like before, working 40 hour weeks, as much as I can.  Do you think that will be enough to see me through my next year at BYU?  I don’t want my studies to be a burden for you and dad, and I also want to be smart and avoid debt as much as possible.

This week has been contacting week.  Contacting has always been a very week point for me, especially street contacting.  I started my mission relatively timid due to lack of ability, and was with an elder who did not like to contact much either.  I improved a great deal in knowledge and talent as I continued working in my mission, but contacting was an obstacle that was very difficult for me to overcome.  My companion is helping me get over that.  He is not a perfect contacter.  He tends to try to convince the person that we are talking with to listen to us, and he doesn’t listen well to the person speaking.  However, he does do it, even though it is also hard for him.  He had been losing motivation to street contact a great deal the last few days because of my bad example, and he told me so one of numerous companionship inventories.  I was initially insulted, but I started thinking about it, and realized that he was right.  I was being a bad example, for him and for the district, where we had set a goal of 10 contacts per missionary per day.  So, I began to contact.  I started with 3 contacts in one day, the goal still being 10.  I think that those were the 3rd, 4th and 5th contacts that I had done in my entire mission.  The next day, I did 4.  The next day I only did 1, but yesterday, I did 6.  I am slowly losing my fear.  I find it awkward still, and I often do not know what to say, but I feel good finishing the day having contacted, because in my opinion, a good part of the success of a missionary is based in his willingness to contact.

I have been focusing a lot more on the work.  I was initially very worried about pleasing my companion, thinking that I was somehow doing something wrong.  But the more that I have been with him, the more I find that he can’t be pleased.  I could be 100% obedient and diligent, and he would still find something to criticize.  And if something as simple as taking the wrong street or looking at the cellphone too long can make him mad at me for the rest of the day, I do not know that he can be happy.  So, I have set limits for myself of how far I am willing to go.  I now don’t ask him how he is doing when he gets mad, because that just annoys him more.  I don’t chat with him in the street, because we didn’t like the manner that I did it.  I do not let his bad attitude get me down, and I keep working as though I had a normal companion beside me.  I focus of the positive, I sing to myself, I contact.  He criticizes me for not doing it well, and I do it anyways, because I do not need to always be the one that is worried about him and trying to make him feel good.  I do not push him, but rather I am letting him come to me, and when he comes, I patiently listen to him, talk it out with him, and apologize for exactly what I did wrong, but nothing more.  I try to stay humble, and I try to always ask myself, “Why I am doing this?  Because I love him, or because I want to spite him?”  I do not know if I am doing the right thing, but I do know that if I am doing all my part, I do not need to do any more than that.  So I don’t do anything more than that, and try to always be looking for what more I can be doing.

Elder Spencer and Elder Middleton, the zone leaders, learned from the current assistants how to apply the general focus of the world’s missionary work “Teach repentance and baptize converts”.  We have been taught that, in the contact, if a person is not interested to change, we shouldn’t waste time with said person.  It is fairly obvious within the first minute or so if a person is “wheat” or “tare”, and they are tare, we immediately end the contacting, giving them a card with our number and continuing to the next person.  What we do is we greet a person on the street, introduce ourselves and our message, and explain that, through Jesus Christ, they can receive peace in this life, and if they are willing to repent and be baptized, then they can be forgiven of their sins.  We then ask them if they have desire to change and be baptized.  If they say no, it is not there time.  They are not prepared, and no amount of talking from our part is going to change that.  So we move on, trusting that the Lord has a plan to prepare them to be baptized.  And if they say yes, we try to help them progress as much as possible right there, maybe teaching a few doctrinal points to clear up doubts (like the authority of the priesthood and eternal families), get their contact information, and if it is possible, invite them to be baptized right there.  We have found a lot of “tares”, but one time I contacted a man who accepted a baptismal date.  I was so excited, I accidentally set it for the 12th of Febuary, giving a person that has never even set foot in a chapel 2 weeks to prepare to be baptized.  I really like contacting this way.  It takes all of the pressure off of us of having to convince people, and we can just focus on finding as many people as possible that want to listen.

Other than that, it has been hot and uneventul.  We visited Alfonso to so some cleaning, and I took photos of some of the high-lights.  Love you all.

Elder Mathewson

As a side note, when we got there, Alfonso was naked, only covered by a blanket.  I had seen him almost naked before, but this was the first time that I saw his hernia.  Ugh.  I lost a year of my life, I think.