Great week this week! I´m really excited to send you some pictures from this week. They still don´t capture the deep, wide, enormous beauty of Valparaíso, but they are pretty good anyway. Editor's Note: I'll add the pictures tonight, can't do that from work
First story of the week comes from M, the 10 year old daughter of A and R. M was the first one in the family to get baptized. After that she had a huge part in R´s baptism, which included that R had to quit smoking. Both of them together contributed to A finally deciding to be baptized, which happened when I got here. I´m pretty sure that, just by M´s faith and incredible spirit--both her grandparents and the missionaries always refer to her as an angel--her entire family is going to join the church, in one moment or another. This week we taught a lesson to M´s mom. At this point in time she doesn´t want to keep going, but I was incredibly impressed that, while we were talking about the Restoration of the Gospel, M pulled out her Book of Mormon and found a scripture to share with her mom. Like we say in Valparaíso, ¡Puro Poder! (Pure Power! or maybe Plain Power!)
In our Zone Meeting this week we had a visit from the Stake President. He talked about working with the members to help them to do missionary work, shared a story about a group of missionaries that passed by his house to help him plan out how to share the gospel with his friends. He said that the vision of this stake is that the members are the ones responsible for the missionary work, because if every member of the stake is sharing the gospel, it will be about a hundred times more effective than missionaries knocking doors. We had to change our approach a bit after hearing this, since the Zone Meeting on Tuesday we have gone by a couple of the leaders in the ward to share about missionary work and invite them to share the gospel with their friends. More than anything, though, I think I learned a lot this week about what my responsability towards missionary work will be after my mission. As a missionary, I´m willing to go out and knock doors all week long, and I´ll probably have some success. But as a missionary, I come and go in periods of a few months. Intersting thoughts...
On Wednesday I had an interchange with the Zone Leaders. For this first time in either of our missions, we challenged a woman to stop smoking--in a time span of 2 weeks--so that she could get baptized. We put together a plan for her to drop off one more cigarrete every three days, and then made a list of other things she can do when she feels like smoking, such as reading the Book of Mormon and praying. It was a pretty awesome experience.
One family we are teaching is made up of a mother and her son, S and C--the son is already baptized, the mother wants to get baptized but first has to get divorced and remarried (which is quite a process here in Chile). She is making all the necessary arrangements to get divorced and married, so I have no doubt that she will get baptized some day. But we had a lesson this week where she related some experiences showing how involved God really is in her life. When C was born, he had leukemia. She was really angry at God for a long time, but after several months of almost hating God, she realized the only way she could possibly save her son´s life would be to give him over to God. She went into a chapel and said a prayer, saying that she would accept whatever was the will of God. C had recovered within the week. After that, C always had a leaning towards religion and God, but never made any major steps until meeting the missionaries. He asked his parents if he could be baptized. S wasn´t sure at first, but after praying about it, she knew it was what C needed and what she should work towards, too. As I write this she is meeting with a lawyer to finalize her divorce arangements. If all goes well, she could be baptized within the year. Wonderful reminder that, once again, this is God´s work and not mine, His children and His plan.
I got to give a talk in church yesterday, It was neat to see my progress in Spanish from the last time I gave a talk, three months ago, to yesterday. I talked about why it is important to do missionary work, the promises in the scriptures that God will help us to do it, and a couple of ways to get started. The point that stuck out to me the most strongly while I was preparing this talk was the power of prayer, praying for opportunities to share the gospel, praying for the people I know, praying for inactive members, etc. I have seen miracles in missionary work through prayer, it´s powerful stuff.
P, Ce´s dad (Ce is a priest in the ward who goes around with us a couple of times a week) just got called as the first councilor in the Elder´s Quorum. This is pretty cool, because he just got baptized in August. He conducted a meeting for the first time yesterday (he was nervous but he did great), and helped to set apart the 2nd councilor, who was also recently called. It´s amazing, because I can already imagine him going through the temple in a few more months, sending Ce out as an amazing missionary, one day serving his own mission with his wife... and he only got baptized a few months ago!
Great week. Hand of the Lord all over the place helping us and everyone around us. I love this work.
Viviendo el Sueño,
Elder Jason Ray