Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stake Conference on Missionary Work and an Argentine Wedding

Dear Family,
Well, today was pretty cool.  Our zone went on a 20 minute drive to a trail head, and then we took a short 20 minute hike to a really pretty beach.  We played beach volleyball.  It was a lot of fun.  We had to make the court out of scratch.  The member and his convert friend cut down 2 small trees, and we dug holes in the sand, and then we put the trees in as the poles.  We brought our ward´s volleyball net.  We drew the lines in the sand, but after a couple hours the ocean started to erase the lines.  It was a really pretty hike, and the beach was nicely secluded and really pretty.  I brought my camera, and I got 1 picture at the trail head before the battery died.  

We are trying really hard to find new investigators.  Our Stake Conference was almost entirely about missionary work, and temples.  We had a Seventy come, and he was from Argentina.  His name was Elder Causse.  I got to shake his hand.  It was so nice to hear someone speak Spanish who isn't from Chile.  He was so easy to understand, and talked really slow.  It was like listening to someone from Alabama.  He talked about how right now, is the time when the Lord is hastening His work, and that the members and missionaries work together.  When he bore his testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that this is the true church, I felt the spirit really strong.  

Our mission president had a really great talk, and he had 2 missionaries do a role play of how a member can share the gospel in an everyday conversation.  Then he asked every member to talk with the person sitting next to them of someone they could share the gospel with.  Then he told all the members to do a 2 minute practice, and he had the missionaries go around and help them.  It was a really good conference, and I took some notes that I want to re-read during my morning studies.  The first talk was one of my favorites.  It was a convert who grew up in a really hard home, but found the church.  He shared that if people study for years and years in order to live comfortably in this short life, just a High School diploma is about 12 years of study, then how important it must be to study the gospel and prepare ourselves for eternity.  He himself knew about studying, he is some sort of doctor of radiology or something like that.  It caught my attention, that this life really is very short, and we better prepare ourselves well, because where we are going after this, we will be there for a long long time.  

I wish you the very best in all you do, you are awesome!  I love you all more than the number of grains of sand in the ocean.
Elder Chad Withers

Dear Family,
Time really is flying by so fast!  I can’t believe it!  Today marks 8 months in my mission.  I hope last week’s email didn't make me sound sad or out of spirits, I am always doing great.  It’s just that last Sunday was sort of a rock bottom feeling with all of our investigators who just weren't progressing.  We have dropped the majority of the people we were visiting, and have essentially started over trying to find the people who are really ready......and the Lord blessed us so much in our efforts!

Last Saturday evening (2 weeks ago) we contacted a cute girl named Liza and taught her a quick lesson 1 on her doorstep.  We left her with the pamphlet and a Book of Mormon and set up a return appointment for the next Monday.  We showed up Monday for the appointment, asked for Liza, and her dad came to the door.  He told us his name was Alfredo, and that he knew we had met with his daughter, and that he needed to talk to us.  Physically looking, he is kind of scary; with broad shoulders, a thick handlebar mustache, and a really deep voice.  My immediate thought, was "oh shoot.....he is going to tell us that we can’t come back to meet with Liza" (shame on me for so little faith!)  He went to get the Book of Mormon that was on the book shelf and the pamphlet...he took us to the kitchen, told us to sit down.  

He told us he had read the pamphlet (which is awesome.....so many people never read!) and that he had started to read the Book of Mormon, and that he was very interested in it.  His curiosity was interesting though, it didn't come out of negative speculation but instead out of sincere wondering.  He had never seen it before, told us quickly all the things he hates about his church, and that he just wants to know about this church.  We only talked to him for like 10 minutes because he had to go, but we set up another appointment with him for Friday.  We showed up on time for our next Friday appointment......and he blew us away.  

He told us that a few nights ago, at like 3 in the morning, he had a toothache so painful he couldn’t even sit still....it hurt so bad.  He walked around in his house, tried to go back to bed, and nothing worked.  He saw the book on the table and decided to read it to pass the night away....he started to read it and said he couldn't put it down.  He got to 1 Nephi 11 when he realized that his eyes were starting to get tired from reading.  When he closed the book, he realized his tooth didn't hurt anymore, and he was able to go back to bed and then to the dentist the next day.  We reviewed what he read, and he told us his favorite was chapter 8 which talked about the tree of life.  His interpretation of it was so spot on, it’s like he is a member.  He picked up that the iron rod is the way to God, the fruit is the gospel, the people out in the darkness are people who have fallen off the path and so on.  He picked it all up.  We went back to the first vision to go over that too, because we hadn't had the chance to really teach him about the restoration.....and he literally quoted back the First Vision to us.  He had already read the pamphlet a few times.  He says he is very interested in the church, and that what he has read so far he believes is true.  

I have never taught anyone like Alfredo on my mission before, and he is so fun to teach.  He asks us so many questions we have to draw him back into what we are talking about.  People who are progressing are just so much more fun to work with!  The intense contacting we have been doing so far is working and the Lord is really guiding us to where we need to go.  

We also went to a fiesta in the chapel for the wedding of the Elder’s investigators.  It was a cute party with lots of balloons, support from the members, and a great opportunity for our investigators to go to the chapel and meet everyone.  We met Ariel and Silvia there at the chapel (and they really came with their whole family and everything!) and it was awesome.  Pepe gave them a tour of the building, with a stop in front of the baptismal font, and they said they loved the chapel and members.  They were a family we were going to drop but they are still ever so slowly progressing, so we won’t lose hope on them yet.  If there is even the slightest sliver of a chance, we keep them.  If there is no movement forward, we move on to new people that are ready.  It’s sort of a sad cycle sometimes, and can be exhausting.....but it makes me really appreciate the true love Christ has for all of us.  

The wedding party was fun though because they have a cool tradition.  Instead of the bride throwing her bouquet of flowers of her shoulder to see who can catch it, they do something completely different.  They bake the cake with little coin things in the shape of random things (like a shoe, car, fish, house, bike, so on) with a string attached to it.  So the strings hang around the cake like aligned confetti (I hope this is making sense).  So all the single women gather around the cake, grab a string, and on the count of three everyone pulls the string.  The person who pulls the string with the ring at the end of it is the person who is going to get married next.  (Funny thing....the bride pulled the ring at this party.)  I pulled out a fish, and Hermana Sainsbury pulled out a house.  (We were reluctant to do it, but all the members thought it would be funny if we did it, so we did!).

The situation with Marisa has honestly just changed.  She sent us a text on Thursday saying she doesn't want to meet with us anymore, that she doesn't know what she believes, and that she just needs space from the church for a while.  We called her right up and asked what happened.....and honestly nothing has happened.  She just hasn't been reading the book of Mormon for 6 weeks or going to church in 2 months, and she has spaced herself enough from doing good things that the doubts Satan puts in her head have just become a little more difficult to overcome and get rid of.  She said she is going to pray this week to really see what the Lord wants her to do.  We fasted for her this Sunday, and we are excited to go see her this Wednesday for our appointment we talked her into.  She has just progressed too far to let us drop her so quickly.  We are going to fight for her as long as she will let us.  

We had a funny contact the other day, and they honestly had me walking away amazed.  It was a middle aged couple that came to the gate, and shared all sorts of information.  Apparently lots of missionaries have clapped that house before, but they still aren't interested.  They said that we aren't even part of a church because the only church that can exist is apparently their church, that we were on a bad path, and that we probably aren't going to be saved.  They talked on and on about how they have a higher chance of being saved compared to most people because of their Santos (saints), the virgin Mary, and Jesus. We just sort of said, "okay, good to meet you, we know this is the true Church of Christ that has been restored" left a pamphlet and just tried to get out of there.  They gave us a pamphlet thing with weird pictures and articles that make no sense.  I am just going to pick the path of Jesus and work to help others do the same.  Less confusing!  I hope one day they can come to understand. 

The Fall weather is still as beautiful as ever and I am excited for a new season.  I got out my sweat pants and sleeping bag to sleep just so I can feel cozy in the cool evenings and mornings.  It’s awesome!  Everything is still really green though.

Well....I hope you all have a great day!  We have zone meeting this Friday, so maybe I have a package waiting for me!  I hope you know I love you more than all of the Catholics who worship Gauchito Gil (Google him....he is like an Argentine Robin Hood who lived who knows how long ago and there are seriously shrines where people go to pray and leave flowers and stuff).

Stay awesome,
Hermana Withers

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