Wow, what a week. Luckily I have more time for writing this week than I had last week (less paperwork for the zone), so I´ll try to get all my ideas written down well. I particularly want to talk a bit about General Conference.
We met an inactive member named M this week, an 18 year old kid who was baptized a few years ago. He is the only member of his family, and after a while he stopped going to church because of pressure from his family and from the world at large. The story of our running into him this week was really incredible--a few weeks ago someone mentioned him to us, saying that it would be good for us to go by. A few days later we ran into a member who knew where he lived, but he wasn´t home that day. This Monday, an appointment in the same neighborhood fell through and we went by to see if he was home. He was, and whats more he was planning out his 18th birthday celebrations. As we started sharing with him, it became very clear from the spirit that we had been sent there kind of as a warning, letting him know that he shouldn´t do anything against the commandments for his birthday or it could go badly. The spirit was so strong while we were teaching, there were several moments that I was absolutely possitive that the words we were speaking weren´t ours at all. End story: He told us this weekend that he hardly celebrated his birthday at all, he´s perfectly fine, and went to the first session of general conference.
We also went by D and her family, including her boyfriend A and her daughter B. We had shared with them before, and I had felt like God wanted us to help the family. I thought God´s idea was to help D and A get married so that A could get baptized (D and her three children were already members). That hadn´t come to pass quite as I had imagined it, and so I thought that we just needed to give the family time. But then D and B (12) came to the ward activity, and we decided we needed to give it another try. Whats more, in the ward activity, God gave me a different perspective about what we could do for this family. We were there to help B to be an active member of the church during the crucial teenage years. When we mentioned this to D, she agreed immediately and said that she would start going to church with her daughter. This was a good reminder for me that I need to submit my own will to God´s, in ever situation.
I, the gate-man we found several weeks ago, is so incredible. He came to General Conference this week, two sessions, and we shared quite a bit during the week as well. He loves talking about faith, and has readily noticed that his own faith is growing as he talks with us and reads the Book of Mormon. Actually, he had to leave early during the last session to get to his job on time, but when he heard that the next talk was going to be on faith, he stayed another 15 minutes to hear it! Knowing him has helped me to strengthen my faith, as well, to know that God has prepared many people to receive the restored gospel.
Randomly funny story--we went by to see O, a recent convert, but he wasn´t home. We started talking to his mother in law, who told us that he had been assaulted earlier that week (luckily he was running with nothing but his clothing, not even a set of keys, so they didn´t take anything and he is fine now). The funny part was how the robbers assaulted him--they threw green, hard avocados!
Y is doing great. Her birthday was this last week (31), and she had a little party and invited us to stop by. When we got there we realized that everybody she had invited were members of the church--J, who baptized her, the Elders Quorum President and his wife, who directs the music in sacrament meeting, and a really nice brother who helped her to get her printer working again during the 2 weeks that her cyber was shut down. She really truly already looks like she has been a member of the church her whole life.
We had a great zone council on Friday. President Kähnlein has the goal of putting the whole mission, letter for letter, in line with Preach My Gospel, the missionary guide revealed by the prophet. We are going to make some changes this month, and he gave us a little "heads up" for the next months as well, letting us know in advance that there will be a few more changes coming. One of the things that I really liked from the council was a quote from Brother Gallardo, the new mission secretary. "Las metas se cumplen." (Goals get achieved). It made me think about my goals, my desires, and how hard I work to make my goals reality.
Last but not least--Conference. I feel like I was priveleged to participate in an absolute spiritual feast, like I have been showered with bits of revelation and guidance for my mission and my life. What a conference. A few highlights:
The new mission age rule, that young men can leave at age 18 and young women at age 19. Wow, talk about a surprise! I feel like one of the fundamental parts of reality has been shaken and turned on its head, but you better believe I am excited. I am sure that this will result in more missionaries, both men and women, who are ready and willing to give of their lives in the service of God. I am proud to be living in this great time.
Questions answered. I took a list of questions into the conference, things that I have been wondering about, mostly questions about how to improve my service as a missionary. There were a few moments (especially during Elder Perkin´s and Elder Holland´s talks) where I felt like God was speaking directly to me, telling me what I needed to do. I felt like my whole mind was illuminated, it was incredible.
I also had an idea during Elder Eyring´s talk in the Priesthood Session. He talked about the things that he does to help his sons to understand and grasp their true potential, even though sometimes it was difficult for them to see it. I decided that I should do something similar (but, granted, a bit smaller in scope) for the missionaries in my zone. Today I bought some nice paper, that I will use to write an apt scripture and an inspiring message to every Elder in the zone, trying to help them see what they can do or become.
I am so grateful that there is a living prophet on the earth today, that we have apostles, and 70, and all the authority and organization that Christ established. How incredibly blessed and privileged we are to live in these days.
Viviendo el sueño,
Elder Jason Ray
P.S. My sister Rachel signed her letter to me this week "I´m a Mormon, I know it, I live it, I love it." Life really does rock :D