Dear Mom and Dad,
Quick note before I start--letters. I have not sent any letters at all yet! I still don´t know where the post office is, but that is first thing on our list for today. I was just told that pouch mail won´t work from Chile to the US, but I can use the US stamps I have left over to send mail anyway... point is, hopefully in these next few weeks I´ll actually get some letters in the mail. And sorry to everyone who has written and hasn´t gotten anything back :P
I want to start out with a funny Spanish story today. There are a lot of funny mistakes that can be made in Spanish--for example, if you say God has a body of ¨Carne y Huevos¨ instead of ¨Carne y Huesos,¨ it goes from flesh and bones to meat and eggs. And then there is the classic ¨You can repent of your pescados, fish, instead of pecados, sins. I have never made any of these mistakes... but this week I found a new one! The word llevar means to wear or to carry. While talking to an older lady on the street she said that sometimes she prays that God will just llevar her--I immediately started thinking, oh, she wants more help and support from God in her life, and we can give her that! I started bearing my testimony of how yes, God could llevar her, when my companion cut me off and said that God had a purpose for her to still be on the earth. I started thinking a bit, and realized what it means for God to llevar someone. I just told an old lady that God could kill her if she listened to our message! Oh, I love being a missionary :D
This Wednesday was quite a fun experience. It was my first experience doing interchanges with another missionary in my area, instead of me in his. That meant I had to know where we were going, who we were looking for, and because my companion knows as much or less Spanish than I did I ended up talking and teaching a lot too. I think because we knew we were totally helpless by ourselves we must have been humble in all the right ways, because it was an amazing day! Five great lessons, including two out in the street. We met a man who was almost the 34th miner to be trapped in an accident up north, but believes he was saved by God; we met a super intelligent health nut with dyslexia who didn´t know anything about God but wants to read the Book of Mormon now; we helped Guillermo, who is about to be baptized, understand the importance of praying to God for help and of inviting his family to learn about the gospel, as well. It was another testament to me that this is God´s work, and he knows how to do it, and all that remains for me is to follow where He leads.
Speaking of Guillermo--next week will be my first baptism out in the field! He passed his interview yesterday. Every time he talks about the gospel he starts tearing up because it means so much to him. He has showed me really what this gospel is. It is the truth of God´s plan for us, it is the way to salvation, and every single person I pass by on the street needs it more desperately than they need food or water.
For example, Anna (did I write about her last week or the one before?) She has been praying to God for years and years, asking for help, for solace, for peace, and that He would show her the way that He wants her to go. Just this last month we ran into her in the street. Just this last week, she found out that God really has been listening to her prayers, that He loves her and cares about her more than she can imagine. She told us that she felt the spirit in her heart after she prayed to end the lesson--all the feelings she had been seeking, the peace, the love, the solace. We´re taking her on a tour of the church tomorrow, and I am so excited to see her take the same path that has helped Guillermo--and so many others.
I feel like God is shaping me step by step into the missionary He wants me to be. This last little while I have learned so many things, one of the biggest being how to talk to everybody. This is a part of the missionary that God needs me to be; I can do it now without any problem, I feel like I´ve gotten over the fears that were inside of me and I am completely comfortable walking up to someone in the street, or sitting next to them on a bus, and introducing myself and bearing testimony of the gospel. Next up I want to tackle something bigger, working together with the members of the ward. Prophets have promised huge success for years if the missionaries and the members work together, the members finding people and inviting their friends to hear the gospel, the missionaries working as teachers and guides to the friends of the members. The only problem is, as far as I have seen, it doesn´t really work like that--yet. But it is possible! That is the promise I keep seeing and reading, that it is possible. So now I´m trying to figure out exactly how. It´s a bigger job than talking to everyone, because all I had to do for that was get over myself. This time, I need to figure out how to do things that haven´t been done before (or at least not by anyone close enough to show me how).
But the bottom line is, this isn´t just about me and what I´m doing, it´s about God, and He is bigger than the little fears in my heart that kept me from talking to people, or in the hearts of the members that keep them from inviting their friends. And it´s the name of His son that I wear, not my own; and it is his work I am involved in. And for this I know that He will help me, and every day I give thanks that I can be here, in Chile, His servant, His missionary.
So, that´s my week.
Vayan con Dios y les amo,
Elder Jason Ray