Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Serving in a big ward, God can not lie

July 21

Dear Family,
This past week has been one of the most enjoyable weeks of the mission.  My companion and I get along really really well.  He is from Los Angeles, California.  Before the mission he was at BYU-Idaho for 1 year studying political science.  He really knows how to work hard and play hard.  He has a healthy sense of humor.  He loves shooting, and his first rifle was a 1903 German made Turkish mauser (not sure if I spelled that right), and he said he shot a black target a couple feet tall 20 for 20 at 300 yards using open sights.  Needless to say, there are a few nerf guns and little shoot outs in our house.  His Spanish isn’t quite as sharp as his aim, but, I will try to help him with that. 

The ward actually is huge.  I would guess there were about 150 people in church on Sunday, and that was with a lot of active members staying home sick.  There are a lot of returned missionaries living in the ward, a lot of young couples, and also a lot of very well off professionals, such as doctors.  It is confirmed, there is a recently called 70 from this ward, Elder Ulloa (not sure if that is how you spell his name).  I haven’t met him yet, but I heard that for Mother´s Day, the elders went to his company to do Skype because he has computers with fast internet there.  Our bishop is a great guy, a really humble person, born in Argentina and raised in Chile.  

I am still district leader here, it is a big district with 4 sisters, 2 other elders, and Elder Bence and I.  Last transfer I had only 2 companionships of elders in my district, and that was it.  I greatly appreciate your prayers in my behalf, that I will be able to fulfill this assignment.  Our sector in Santa Sabina is really quite big, with a great majority of the houses similar to the houses in Lonco.  There are a lot of business executives, lawyers, doctors, and other such professionals who live in the area.  We are next to the Concepcion airport, and next to the gigantic mall of Talcahuano.

This past week we worked hard trying to find new investigators, and only found 1.  Although we are really excited about that 1, because she is the daughter of a recent convert who got baptized about 3 weeks ago.  

I love you all, more than the number of mosquitoes in Minnesota.
-Elder WIthers

Dear Family,
I am so glad you are all doing so well!  You have no idea how much good it does me to read your letters each week.  Just to read that you are all the same, that the week went well, that summer is going well, and that you are all keeping on with life as usual.  I love it.  You are all a great source of strength for me.  

This week was super.  A really great, terrific week :)  

Crazy thing is that we have been without cold water for almost a week.  It went out last Monday....and we are still without it.  For some reason we have hot water (who knows why), so we can shower and wash the dishes just fine… who knows what the problem is.  We aren’t the only ones either,  I think everyone is without water......but it’s just sort of an unusual thing.  Members have told us it’s because there is a main water pipe that is broken.  Hopefully it comes back soon. 

This last Sunday we had 3 investigators, 2 recent converts, and  2 less actives at church.  Woooooohooooo!  The gospel principles class is growing little by little :)  The branch in general is growing, little by little and it’s been amazing to watch.  I really love serving here in Beltran, an area with so many needs but there is so much fun and love for Christ amongst the members.  We have really been working hard to find new investigators and retain the recent converts.

This week the Relief Society had a baby shower activity which was so funny.  There are two ladies in the branch who are expecting babies, so they threw a little party for them.  We took 2 less actives with us and we all had a great time.  I haven’t been to an activity like that in ages!  

The other day we were contacting on a street, and we knocked the door of an older man.  He answered the door, and came to his gate, and asked what we wanted…(ha, typical Argentine :)  We told him who we are and what our purpose was in being there......and he flatly and firmly stated he was Atheist.  He made several remarks as to why God can’t exist, and so on.......and for a minute my testimony felt very attacked.  It was the weirdest sensation ever.  I have contacted hundreds of people, with all types of people answering the door....from your most devout Catholic, to your most stubborn Atheist....and most people feel a need to share their two cents (not all, but several) and their remarks aren’t usually uplifting or empowering.  But I never leave feeling beaten down.  As a missionary, I have often felt protected and spiritually blessed by the Spirit......still ready and energized to keep going.  But with this man......the concept came into my mind that maybe he was right, that maybe everything I was doing was a lie......and it was the most disgusting and revolting feeling ever.

The second the idea that all of it was a lie came into my mind, I remembered the scripture Enos 1:6  “And I Enos knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.”  I felt sooooo much better.  God can’t lie.  All of the spiritual confirmations and my testimony of the gospel aren’t a lie, and I could never deny my testimony or the Book of Mormon.  I felt so reassured, and so blessed to remember that it is all true.  That all of the efforts, sacrifices, and commitments it takes to share the gospel...are all worth it, and the only person who wants us to think it’s a waste is Satan, but we can’t let him.  He has already lost the battle, and he wants us all to think that our work is a waste....but it’s not.  All we have to do is stick to the Lord´s side, and we will win every time.  Ha....I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but I hope so.  

I absolutely love being a missionary.  We have been very careful too.  Beltran is a little bit more dangerous than La Paz....in the sense that it’s a bigger city, but we have fully recovered from getting robbed and we try our hardest each day to be obedient to have the protection from the Spirit.  The work moves forward, and it’s so awesome to be a part of!

I love you more than all the prayers that are said around the world each day!  
Hermana Withers

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