Monday, December 3, 2012

Time is moving fast, learning so much

I love my family, día 545, Week 78, Month 18,

It is hard to believe that we're already in week 4 of the change (every Monday morning of every week 4 I cut my hair). It is hard to believe that we're in December. Our Christmas phone call is a mere 3 weeks away. The thing that scares me most is that I have this much time in the mission. Supposedly I have all kinds of experience that I'm supposed to be sharing with our zone but at times I feel as if they teach me and I just have 6 months in the mission. I suppose that is the amazing part about the mission. We only have two years to learn a language, become excellent teachers, and relate well in a plethora of social situations and during that process, with or without experience we're supposed to train and help each other. It is a miracle that the mission works! We're 19 (now 18 ) year old kids. Even among the most disobedient missionaries there is still a level of discipline and respect for authority that amazes me. The church must be true if it produced such a well functioning program.

Monday was a bit of a slow-ish night. The nigt did however start with a miracle. There is a partial family living relatively close to our house. The husband is a member and the wife has never, ever, ever, wanted to come out even to greet us. The miracle was not only that she came and greeted us, but also that she stayed for a brief prayer. Amazaing. We stopped by to visit Fernando (the one I told you about who killed someone and couldn't be baptized) to see when we could bring him to the office to get interviewed by Presidente and get the permissions underway for his baptism. Our night continued with a noche de hogar at the Zuniga family's house. Before starting however we were called over to another investigator family's house. They weren't there at the time of our appointment and felt bad and when they got back they called us – a nice gesture. The Zunigas are awesome. We watched the Missionary Work and the Atonement Video.

Tuesday we had a normal full workday. We studied, washed our clothes, ate lunch then started to work. Once again the Lord is teaching me the lesson to not judge and to be humble. There is a family that we're teaching who we more or less ignored for a while. For several months now the husband, Hector, who speaks perfect English because he lived in the states for 30 years, would always tell us one day he would come to church. About a month ago he started showing up but was asking for food help and begging to get baptized for what we thought was food help. So also a few weeks ago he brought his wife with him and we then started teaching them. We were a bit put off when he started springing all kinds of crazy doctrinal ideas. But as we keep talking to them and teaching them we realize more and more that their intentions are sincere and they're not really out to get us or the church's resources. It seems that most of our difference with Hector have been just vocabulary. As Dad would say he likes to play “word games:” Lourdes went to a family history meeting in the building. She's excited to do family history work for her family after getting baptized. We had a bit of a difficult lesson with the family from Monday night – the ones who called us over – because they don't want to get married. We taught them the law of chastity and left them thinking and set a return appointment. Another miracle occurred – passing for our usual visit with Andrea she told us that tomorrow (4/Dic) she was going to tell us when she would be baptized. It appears that finally, after seven months, that she is going to make the decision to leave Babylon behind!

The trusty airplane blanket, hot cocoa and pb cookies. with Elder Oveson
Wednesday was ZL Consejo. It was awesome. Always wonderful to listen to what Presidente has to say. He showed us as part of his class the conference talk of Jeffrey R. Holland from October. Wow. That is powerful. By an incredible miracle, more from default than anything, our zone baptized more than all other 10 zones in the mission the month of November. It was a very low month for the mission (130) and our zone baptized the most with (19). Hopefully in the future we can do it again, but upon actual merits of a win, not just because everyone else did worse. In the afternoon we planned our classes for the taller de zona the next day. I enjoy preparing and teaching classes to our zone. I really love the missionaries and when I plan the classes and reflect upon what Presidente taught us I try to find the personal applications for each missionary. In the evening we visited Rosaura an investigator of about 3 years who finally has decided to be baptized. It's nothing that I've done while being here, she just one day decided to finally do it. We'd visited her about once or twice a month and in November Elder Folsom and I challenged her for baptism, a bit of a struggle, and she put the date. Then with Elder Oveson, she changed her date to the first of December. So we reviewed the interview questions with her. We wandered by the Zuniga's house looking for the keys to the church so that we could use the plasma in the taller the next day and we found the father of Hermano Zuniga in extremely poor health. He'd been fighting pancreatic cancer for months (longer??) and was on the down hill. We returned to Rosaura's house (she's a nurse) to bring her up to see what should be done. Hermano Zuniga invited me to participate in what would be the last priesthood blessing he would receive. The poor Zuniga family has had such a week. Their 3 year old daughter was in the hospital all week from appendicitis and then from some sort of infection and from Wednesday till Saturday the father/father-in-law/grandpa was in the hospital too. I was humbled to be asked to participate in the blessing. We finished the day passing bty the house of one of our friends in the Registro Nacional de las Personas to ask a question for Elder Gonzalez and Elder Folsom (now compañeros).

Thursday was our taller. It was awesome. I felt the Spirit so strongly as I was teaching. I used Mormon Messages “a Priesthood Duty” by President Monson and “Stay within the lines” by Jeffrey R. Holland. I also used clips from Elder Holland's talk and President Uchtdorf's regret talk from this past conference and the video of stake growth with the world map and the Spirit of God. It was fun. It is nice to have the respect of the zone and to know that they care. Our afternoon proselyting got a bit hung up with Hector and Janet (hit wife). He is a talker! But after these visits of this week I feel much better about baptizing him. We then had the interview for Rosaura which was quick. She, obviously after so much time, knows literally everything. To finish the day we stopped off at Mario and Jaky's to see how they'd been doing.

Friday was our usual office/errands day. We started it off by baking a batch of peanut butter cookies, courtesy of Elder Oveson's mom, and reading the Book of Mormon. We ran to the office and then over to our beloved Hermano (Abogado) Tablas's office. We paid him for his services and dropped off the mostly completed papers that we owe him. The proseliting in the afternoon went rather quickly. We were finally able to see Juan Ernesto, but not his family, this week. We visited Hector, Lourdes, Elvia (the 82 year old we baptized in July), and a few others. What I most want to comment on is the visit we had with the family from Monday night and Tuesday's law of chastity lesson. As we were talking with them about marriage and baptism it was painfully clear to us and to the couple, that the wife wanted to get married but the husband didn't. It brought her to tears as we continued to converse because she, as well as we realized that his refusal to marry (saying that it would be better “más adelante”) showed her that he is only in the relationship for the physical. The reason why Honduran men (and probably others in the world) don't want to get married is because when they begin to age the wife obviously does too and then it becomes time to leave her and find someone younger to start a second home... or third, or whatever. So not wanting to get married just affirms the blatant proclaimed infidelity by ducking any lasting formal commitment  We're sad for her.

Saturday we went in the morning for what we thought would be refrigerio for our baptism. We got back and made some lunch and then got the news that Hermano Zuniga's father had passed away. In the middle of our first visit in the afternoon we were called to go help out with the preparations for the funeral that night. It consumed the day. Rosaura also called us and told us that she didn't want to be baptized on the same day as the funeral of Hermano Zuniga, Sr. because she was friends with him, etc. So, that was fine I suppose but we were of course a bit disappointed. The service that I rendered was piano playing. I played for about 2 and a half hours waiting for the service to begin. It started after 21:00 and we ended getting home running by 22:00 from the church. Desperate times call for desperate measures and we felt like it was important to support the family.

Sunday morning was a hard day in church. While we had success in getting a drunken grandson of Elvia to the chapel none of our other investigators seemed to show up. The overall attendance was very, very, low. Right after the regular meetings there as another devotional/funeral service at which I also played the piano. We got home, had to make our own lunch because the entire ward went to the cemetery and then we started a slow afternoon of work. We managed to bring Andrea and her mom to the Christmas Devotional. It was nice to do what you were doing last night!

I am praying and constantly thinking about the Morris family.

The church is true. It is hard to believe that I am down to my last few days in this area. The time really does fly.
This may be a part to take out of the blog post but it was a funny comment by my companion who is currently going through the fifth week of what was once his “girlfriend” not writing him. I've noticed a similar pattern with Mitch and I as well. Suddenly the girls just stop writing with no explanation. My companion's comment was “What happened to the good old days when an Elder could expect a formal 'Dear John' or at least some sort of excuse?”
He also reminded me of what Master Yoda said, “Fear of loss is a path to the dark side.” I give testimony of the words of my companion. I can see how that is really a gospel truth. We've got to commit to the gospel and not let our fear of losing old sins, habits, etc keep us from the full blessings that the Lord wants us to have.
I love and miss you lots.
Elder Clay

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