Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Life is good—March 21, 2016

Quellón, my previous sector, is a giant hill. Everyone lives on the coast, and the countryside is on top of the hill. I remember seeing there a mom that would always roll into town riding a horse with her daughter, they both were wearing ponchos, and the little girl was always holding a chainsaw.

For Saint Patrick’s Day we cooked green pancakes. 

There is a saying in Chile: "dar palos" or "give sticks." It is used to reprimand someone or tell them to change. Funny.

In Valdivia, my current sector, some preachers set up a speaker, microphone, and preach on the street. I heard one around the corner, and I thought his congregation would be out listening to him because he was pretty loud. As I rounded the corner, I saw the guy. He had a crowd of two little kids on bikes that were watching him from 5 feet away.

This week we contacted a nice old guy outside of his house. We chatted a bit. He was pretty chill. I asked him if he had any religious beliefs and he told me he belonged to a church.  But he didn’t pursue the topic and still seemed pretty chill. I asked the guy what he believed. I then spent the next 10 minutes trying to avoid debate as he just railed on us. It took a lot to juggle around keeping my temper under control, be polite, and escape all at the same time. I laughed about it later.

This week has been a good one. And very hard. This sector has 2 eternal investigators (investigating for years and still haven’t been baptized) and that’s it. We have been doing lots of contacts. It has been hard. Wednesday morning, I was doing sit-ups and bawling my eyes out at the same time because this is so hard. I prayed hard. At the end of my sit-ups, I felt a prompting from the Spirit tell me I just need to be patient. I felt better. That morning, I had a powerful study on how we can find more people. The relationships with the ward leaders and members here isn’t the strongest so we are going to improve that. I fasted for this sector, for success, to help God’s children here. I feel a lot better now. 

As part of improving relationships with the members here, we have been passing by their homes and teaching them the restoration. I absolutely love it. It helps us practice, and helps them feel the Spirit. And we can ask them for references. I love teaching it to them because they already believe it and we get to have a spiritual experience together. Afterwards, we always feel more enthusiasm for the work.

We taught a less active members this week. They are unmarried and have a daughter. We are going to help them get back to church, and start living the gospel again. Living the gospel is true happiness. I feel so blessed to be on a mission. I have felt true happiness. 

During our leadership council we did "mirror preaching." We treat ourselves like an investigator. We pick our need, what we see that we need to change to improve, create a 10 minute lesson outline with a commitment, and then teach ourselves in the mirror. At first it was weird. But once it became comfortable, I felt the Spirit very strong. It is the same format we use in the Duty to God program. I love it. 

I’ve been practicing gratitude a lot more. I’m ponderizing Doctrine and Covenants 78:17-.20. Look it up. I had an experience with it. I was in the street. I was hot, tired, and wanting the day to be over. And I was tired of walking. I remembered my goal to say a prayer of gratitude. I did it. The Spirit filled me up with joy and I realized how blessed I was. As we are grateful, it allows the Lord to show us how much he loves us, that he is a merciful being, and that he actually is blessing our lives a lot. I especially love thanking Heavenly Father for gospel truths. I cherish this gospel. I have grown to love it so much more on the mission. 

We made bread with a member family this week. A little family home evening. Elder smith had the idea to have the members teach us how to make bread, then we take it to their friends with them. It is a soft way to build better relationships with their neighbors and friends, give them more exposure to the Church, and help the members do missionary work. After we made bread with this family, they took it to a sister in the ward that has a hard time getting along with others, and an elderly man whose wife is in the hospital, and he limps around and has hard time doing things. He told us we were the first visit from the members of the Church. I felt great joy. That is such a good feeling. Later in the week, we cut the elderly guy’s wood and just talked with him. I encourage you all to find small ways to serve others like that. It feels really good. 

We passed by a less active this week. His son fell from a tree and is now paralyzed waist down. He really wants his son to be able to serve a mission. His son went to Santiago this week to meet with doctors. This brother is also having a hard time financially. We talked to him and cut his wood, during which I asked him about how he joined the church. We talked a bit. He told us he had an uncle who was a member. This uncle always gave away copies of the Book of Mormon and Liahona as presents. His uncle gifted him a Book of Mormon, looked him in the eyes, and told him "this book has changed my life." Then the brother paused and there was a silence. He looked down as he started to get emotional and I felt the Spirit. He looked up at me and with tears filling his eyes he said "Hermanos, the book changes lives. It changed mine. Keep preaching. The book changes lives." I felt the Spirit very strong. I can add my testimony too. The Book of Mormon has changed my life. I know it is the word of God. I know it contains the fullness of the gospel. I know that by applying it, we will grow closer to God. I love that book. 

Even though this week has been rough, it has been good. I feel that God is pleased with what I am doing. I feel I am a good missionary.

Elder West

Me, hypnotizing a dog with a rock