Thanks so much for taking time each week to write me. I really do read every word of every email, and of every dear elder and letter. I want you all to know how grateful I really am for all your prayers, letters, and packages.
Several months ago, I got a letter from a family in my home ward, explaining that the missionaries there had asked them to develop a missionary plan as a family, including regular gospel study, and also activities to help people come to church. The family sent the letter, with their plan, and I thought it was a great idea. We are starting to help the families in this ward get excited about missionary work and every member a missionary. This is a really neat ward, and yesterday there were 198 people in Sacrament meeting, which was amazing. I really think it would be of great worth for you all to do something similar, to do missionary work as a family. Something so simple as inviting another family over for a barbecue can be a great way to start. The biggest forests in the world started out as just a few seeds. 2 Nephi 5:11 really applies here. ¨And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind.´´
I really love the mission field, and what I love most is seeing the changes that people make as they come to know their Savior Jesus Christ by living his gospel. I talked with Elder Sellers, and was delighted to hear that Amadeo stays for the 3 hours each Sunday, has received the Aaronic Priesthood, and now has a calling as a greeter Sunday mornings. I am so happy with that. Also, there was a less active family, the Ormeño family that we were working with. They haven’t come to church for about 20 years, and we had found them by knocking doors. We taught them simple and direct, asking really heartfelt questions, and they are now coming back to church so that is exciting news.
Nothing too crazy has happened this week. We are looking for a new house though, because the lady we are renting the house from keeps raising the rent, and the mission office isn’t interested in paying more, so we are looking for another place.
I want you all to know how much I love being a missionary. I really like being able to wear a plaque that says Elder Withers and La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días. I know that this is the one and only true church on the face of the earth. It is the true cake. (Spanish phrase for something validated.) I know it, I have prayed about it, and I tell people every day that they need to go to the church on Sunday.
I love you all more than the number of gold fish it would take to make a gold fish soup big enough to be lunch for a great white shark.
Have a great week,
The work is marching along beautifully here. Mauro is still progressing well, and is planning to be baptized in 2 weeks. His biggest hurdle is his parents, he is scared to tell them about his decision to be baptized.....especially because he knows that his parents have negative feelings toward the church. He is 23 years old though, so he doesn’t have to have permission from his parents......he is just scared that his relationship with them will become strained. He has the family of his fiancée, who are all members and are helping him out a ton.......but it’s hard. We are praying for him. It isn’t easy to change, and it’s even harder when you don’t have parental support, but he can do it. All the material things we have to sacrifice will be returned to us 100 fold if we decide to choose the Lord and be faithful.
This week (starting today) our apartment is going under some intensive construction. The church is putting in a water box heater thing, but it’s something that requires a week worth of work, breaking the walls, and a part of the roof......in other words we had to pack up and leave for the week. We are staying with the Hermanas in Bermudez, the next area over from ours. The apartment is nice, but getting to the front door is an adventure. We will be staying with them all week, and taking a bus to our area each day.....which will make for a long week, but we will be fine.
Yesterday was one of the craziest Sundays of my life. We got to church and all was well with the relief society...we enjoyed a great class. Time for gospel principles arrived, and the teacher hadn’t showed up....okay, no problem good thing we study the classes each week in case that happens :) Then it was time for sacrament meeting. It was the 2nd Sunday of the month, meaning the theme was missionary work......but the ward missionary leader forgot, and forgot to assign people to give talks (not sure if that is kosher or not, but here on the second Sunday, the ward missionary leader is in charge of assigning the talks). On top of everything, the ward missionary leader was sick and couldn’t even make it to church yesterday. Shoot. Branch president was busy, and said, "can you two organize the sacrament meeting? I need to interview this sister".... (turns out she was to be interviewed to be the new Relief Society president) We were just like, WHAT?!?! Are you sure......we don’t know anything about organizing the program; this should have been organized at least a week ago. So there we were. 10 minutes before church started, with an assignment to put together a program, because everyone else was sick or in a bind.....and we had no idea what to do. We asked a few members if they would be willing to share a personal story or testimony or something, and one said yes, and everyone else said they were too nervous with so little time. After asking a few people, we felt dumb asking so last minute. So we bagged it, assigned ourselves the talks......a nice, super long intermediate hymn, and that was it. It was a great meeting, we wrote the talks during the sacrament. In the middle of the meeting, a homeless man walked in the door, asking for money. And a little bit later another lady we didn’t know walked in crying and crying and crying. We also had the high councilman from the stake in charge of Beltran come to visit, and also to have a meeting with us. Once church ended, we were like......"that’s it? Any more surprises???" By the end of the 3 hours, I felt like I had just run a marathon. It was crazy! I have never had a Sunday like it before, normally everything goes wonderfully.......but yesterday everything was complicated for everyone all at the same time, and everyone looked to us to solve the problem. We did what we could, but I really do appreciate the leaders and the members and the callings they fulfill. We can’t do it all the time.
It really was a great week, and I am so grateful for all of my blessings and for all of you! Have a great week! I love you more than all the cups of flour it would take to make a line of chocolate chip cookies from here to Boise!