This was an excellent week. Normally when I say "This was an excellent week," it means that we had good lessons, felt the spirit, and I am becoming more and more a disciple of Christ. This excellent week was more like one of those weeks that a Mormon movie company will want to borrow and make into a hilarious comedy. But anyway, it was an excellent week.
Monday after we finished grocery shopping, we decided to make pizzas. A rather simple endeavor quickly became an adventure, because the oven in our little house doesn´t work, and one of the other Elders (I won´t say which) added twice as much water as was needed to the dough recipe. The result was a 30 minute battle with a sticky mass of dough, adding more and more flour until everybody in the house was out, and pizzas made on the stove and in the microwave. But, they did turn out rather delicious.
Fast forward to Friday. We had a great Family Night with the V family, a single mom and her three kids who are so solid and righteous it amazes me (every time we do a family night with them and an investigator, the investigator ends up going to church and wanting to get baptized). We watched the video of the restoration, and then the two investigators--M and F--stayed there for two hours after we left.
Another really important thing that happened Friday--T R stopped smoking! She managed to get down from four to one and a half from Sunday to Thursday. Then everyone was praying really hard Thursday night, and Friday she didn´t smoke anything for the first time in 30 years. It was a moment of rejoicing and of faith, because the promises that we had made to her that Christ would help her to drop this vice were all fulfilled. Last night we asked her how she was doing, she said she still had a desire to smoke but kept going strong.
One more story before I start into the mormon missionary comedy. We met the D family, made up of the grandparents, a son and his girlfriend, and their newborn baby (7 days old!) All but the girlfriend are members. We shared a little bit with them and heard their dream and vision. Right now they are living in a thrown-together shack while they hand-build a couple cabañas (little houses). Within the next few months they want to build houses, the son and the girlfriend are going to get married, and they want to begin plans to be sealed in the temple within a year. Amazing story, amazing courage. Before their thrown-together shack was completed, they lived in a tent for two months--and all this time the girlfriend was pregnant! But every other word they talked of their trust in God and His power to help them and bring them through this hard time.
OK, now I can start the mormon missionary comedy. It started out with Saturday Morning. We had to go to the chapel to clean out the baptismal font, but it was absolutely pouring rain. We bundled up with everything we could (first time in my life I´ve used an umbrella) and headed off across town. We made the mistake of trying to go through the main street, which looked pretty much like a river. We tried jumping across large streams of water, several times didn´t quite make it, and got to the chapel soaking wet.
After cleaning out the font, we took a bus to a small town outside of Quintero to have lunch with a member family in the ward. We got lost and chased by dogs, got there late, and found out that they had expected us to go for lunch the day before. Luckily they had saved everything for us, so we heated it up, ate, and left.
When we got back to Quintero, four different appointments we had set fell through (that isn´t too uncommon, but it makes the story sound better :D) We headed off to go share with a less-active member family that lived nearby to the appartment block where we were working. I was tired, wet, and worn out at this point, and when a lady on the side of the road said "cuidado con el perro" (careful with the dog), I didn´t pay enough attention, and there went my goal to be in Chile for two years without ever getting bit.
The lady invited us in and rather frantically made sure that the dog bite wasn´t serious (it isn´t), and while she was talking it slipped out that she, too, was a member of the church, but that she had been inactive for 20 years and was now drinking and smoking like no tomorrow. When we told her that God had inspired a dog to bite me to make sure that we would stop by there and help her get back to church, she started sobbing. (Make sure you imagine this story with my leg up on a table, pant up to my knee, making sure a dog bite isn´t serious).
When we got back out on the street and headed for our next appointment, the wind had picked up quite a bit. When we got back to the appartment complex, which is right on the edge of a cliff down to the sea, the wind was so strong that we almost couldn´t walk against it. We stopped by one of our investigators, and to help them get from their house to the house of their sister, we had to link arms and make a headlong plung into the wind, several times almost falling down.
Finally we got home, and the next day started. But, because the wind and rain was so strong, none of the people that were going to get baptized that day could get to church--they were all terrified to take the small children out of the house. So the baptismal service was cancelled and moved back to Saturday, and we enjoyed a great Sunday with 1/3 of the members (all the members who owned cars, plus a few others).
If I can find a computer that works, I´m going to send a picture of Elder Sosa and I smiling after this mormon-movie-comedy day and a half. It was awesome, easily the most entertaining week of my mission.
But then, the day ended like all mormon movies should. We stopped by M, the lady whose dog almost ran off with my leg, and she immediately said that she wanted to get back to church. She is planning on going this next weekend.
Then we stopped by the R family and, wonder of wonders, the father of N, who is T´s nephew and legal ward, agreed that he can go to church every Sunday, and he will be getting baptized with his family on Saturday. Then, an even bigger miracle--E, husband of K, the first one to decide she wanted to get baptized, said that he wanted to be baptized and that he would be willing to work towards a goal, just like his wife, sister-, and mother-in-law did. This was a huge miracle, because the first few times we met him, he would hardly give us the time of day.
So at the end of the week, we were about as worn out as we had ever been before in our lives. I got bit by a small angry dog, and our faces were pelted with sand and small rocks by a gale-force wind. But, the gospel is still true, Jesus still lives, and it was a really fantastic week.
Please, let me know when the movie company calls.
Viviendo el sueño,
Elder Jason Ray