Thursday, November 13, 2014

Happy Families Live the Gospel, "Become the Convert in Galvez, Argentina"

November 10, 2014

Dear Family,
I shake you warmly by the hand.  This week we had some exciting stuff happen.  Daniel, the man who was baptized a few weeks ago had his 59th birthday on Thursday.  We called him and sang him happy birthday in Spanish.  He was really happy, and then the next day we went to visit him and they had saved us a little bit of cake.  ¡Que rico!  (Very delicious!)  It has been interesting to see him slowly grow to like the church more and more.  On his few first Sundays he would come in jeans and a plaid shirt, then he worked his way up to a color shirt with a blue sport coat and trousers, and for his confirmation he wore a suit, now he wears a suit and comes with a nice shoulder bag to carry his scriptures and Sunday school books.  I received a letter from Elder Catron, my trainer, saying that he interviewed Daniel`s wife for baptism, roughly 6 months ago.  He was surprised that Daniel has been baptized, because several months ago he was not even near wanting to join the church.  Elder Catron was a great companion, he gave me a stick of jerky today in the office, and is now training again, and ends his mission when Rebecca does.

I am genuinely doing great.  I love the mission and really would like to stay another transfer in Santa Sabina, but I guess I will find out next week whether or not I will still be here.  I know things have been hard with my companion, but he has come a long ways, and I have learned a lot about what it means to be a peacemaker.  I am glad that we have been together; it has given me an amazing opportunity to draw closer to the Savior.  I think Elder Z will end up staying in the mission field, thank you for your prayers.

I had laid aside Saturday to lay siege on the Bavarian village, but we will be having Stake Conference Saturday session that evening, and an Elders Quorum home teaching blitz in the morning, so It will have to be done a different day.  Very tricky.  

I am happy and healthy and really hope the very best for all of you.  I know without a doubt that any family that lives the gospel will be a happy family.  I love you all.  Keep living the gospel and you’ll be happy.  Thanks for all of your prayers and letters.  I hope you have a great week.  I love you all more than the number of toothpicks you would need to make a replica of a full-grown California redwood.

With lots of love,
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
This was a terrifically great week!  We had to spend a lot of time in Santa Fe, the closest big city to Galvez for meetings and paperwork for the visa of my companion, so that made the week seem slow in terms of missionary work......but it really was a great week.  

In one of the meetings we had this week, was with President Zanni.  It was with the Santa Fe and Santa Fe North it was kind of cool to have a smaller meeting with just president and his family, and I learned TONS.  It’s been a long time since I have felt so spiritually recharged and edified, both from what he taught us and from what the spirit taught me, and I have been mentally analyzing and thinking about it over and over again.  I wish I could type it all out and share everything that I learned, but the time will not even slightly cut it.  At one point he looked me directly in the eyes, and he said......"Sister, I know exactly what is happening in the area where you are serving........and what the Lord is really looking for is that you become the convert from Galvez".  I knew President was the person saying the words, but at the same time I felt like it was a message straight from Heavenly Father.  I looked President in the eyes the whole time and said, "I know........"  I hardly ever cry, but while sitting in that eyes started to well up with tears a little bit, as I realized Heavenly Father really does love us and expects the best of us at all times, and that a mission serves in many ways to bring more people unto Christ....but to also convert the missionary.  I have never felt that to be more true.  I had a working knowledge and belief that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet......I really did have a testimony, ever so small, before starting my mission.....but now there is no way you could ever get me to deny it.  Send me through jail, or put me through fire, strip me of my freedoms, whatever you want....but you could never get me to deny it.  Because what I have learned here on my mission has changed me forever.  My mission so far has been the school of my life, and I know that without all of my missionary experiences, I would have never grown to love Jesus Christ and His gospel in the way that I do.  President Zanni always says, that a mission is the school of the Gods.....because we were born to be Kings and Queens.......and someday we will be, but right now we are in schooling to learn how to do it right.

Galvez has been the Gethsemane of my mission, in that I have never felt so far and so lonely before.  In terms of missionary tools that a missionary could a ward missionary leader, or counselors for the branch president, or members who understand the doctrine and can help with the lessons, or members who give us lunch, a relief society president who goes to church, a branch president who lives close......there is absolutely nothing.  We have nothing.  The tools we have, are preach my gospel, the Book of Mormon, mission president, and prayer.

This week we had lots of problems with members getting offended by other members for silly and insignificant things......and all of the gossip and hate is really hurting this small branch.  Instead of being able to look for new investigators and teaching them, we had to spend some extra time this week working with all the members to help them keep the peace and cool off.  We taught a lot about forgiveness, and how no one is perfect, and not worrying about what happens in the church.  If at any moment you received a testimony that the church is true, and you were baptized....making a covenant with God saying you would take the name of Jesus Christ upon you, then forget about the rest of the things that happen with the imperfect members.  Keep your part of the deal with God by going to church, reading the scriptures, saying your prayers.......and you are fine.  Case closed.  They have taken it surprisingly well.....seeing as how we aren’t taking any more excuses.  :)  We teach with all the love we have to give, and what they have really needed is someone who loves them enough to remind them how we should act as members.  We talk clearly, and directly, and with as much love as possible.....and it’s what someone should have been doing here in Galvez a long time ago.  And so, when President said.......that the Lord was expecting that I become Galvez´s most converted convert, it really hit me.  It has been so true; as I have tried to help other people strengthen their testimonies.....I have become more and more converted.  I have also learned how important it is to stick to the fundamental basics, like the Book of Mormon and words from the prophets.  If we know those things to be true, then we start with that and work our way forward.  

It really was a great week, a spiritually fortifying week, with lots of blessings!  Thanks for everything.  I love you all lots and lots and lots!  I love you all more than the number of fireflies that fly around in the streets each night in Galvez!

Hermana Withers

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