First week in a new ward--everything is new, but I´ll stick to the highlight reels.
Like, the fact that I still can´t believe that it is already 2013, and almost put -12 at the end of the subject line.
Or the fact that the hand trick that Dad has always done (up high, to the side, other side, down low, too slow!) is an instant friend-maker with all of the kids from 4 to 10 (several kids now run up to me in the street with their hands already in the air whenever we go by to visit their families, and they usually do a victory jump whenever they successfully hit my hand).
Other news. The first person I met here in the ward was C, a recent convert who was baptized towards the end of December. She is a single mother of two little kids, D and F, and lives with her mother and a few sisters, all of whom are softening up bit by bit to listen to us. I could immediately tell that she had made a lot of changes to get baptized, mostly based on the light in her eyes. It really is amazing what the gospel can do for someone!
She also introduced us to a really nice family from Peru that came here to Chile for vacations. They were really receptive to our message, saying that we were all brothers and sisters in Christ, and that they wanted to gratefully accept anyone that came to teach about him. We shared about the Book of Mormon and exchanged hymns (they asked me to sing a hymn in English, too, I chose "I Stand All Amazed" but forgot the last two verses), then they left for Santiago to catch a bus to Peru. They did give us their address so that the missionaries can pass by there in Peru, I really hope it goes well with them over there.
While walking through the street we ran into LE and C. LE recently moved into the ward from the south, and her sister C came up to help her get settled. LE came with her husband, JC, who isn´t a member but is very friendly and receptive, and her daughter V (15), who is a Chilean version of my cousin K. Meaning we´ll all get along just fine.
I was really impacted by one family that the missionaries that were here before found. R and T, with their kids A (13), E (10), and N (6). While we were talking to them and getting to know them, I had a really strong feeling that I could help them, and that they would become a strong and faithful family in the gospel. After that first day we haven´t been able to find them at home--either they aren´t at home or we have been in another part of town when they are at home--but I hope to bring a lot more news from this family.
Yesterday, I got to meet another family that has been sharing with the missionaries for a few months, E and M. When I first met M, my first impression was not really the type of guy that I would initially expect to get interested in the church. I asked him why he kept sharing with the missionaries, and his answer really surprised me. He said something like this: "I can tell that I´m not whole, or complete. I´m missing something, I´m partly empty. And all of the missionaries that I have met have a fire, a drive, that I think comes because they felt something and know that this is true. And I´ve never felt anything like that... but I would like to." Wow. What an amazing observation. M could see, in a simple but very true way, the process of testimony and conversion in every single missionary he had met. I thought a lot about my own conversions, how I felt the need for Christ in my life to fill up my own emptiness, how I looked for him through the scriptures and through prayer, and about a few really beautiful moments when I have felt the spirit say to my heart and my mind that this really is the truth, that I´m in the right place, doing the right thing. We invited E and M to read the Book of Mormon and to pray earnestly asking if it was true. I also extend that same invitation to anyone who feels like they haven´t yet felt what they need to feel to commit themselves completely and totally to God and his work. If you do so, you will feel it. I know this because I have.
I love this work. I love it so much that it is hard for me to express it, in Spanish or in English, but I am excited to spend my entire life trying to do so. I love Christ, and I am eternally grateful for everything He gave for me.
Viviendo el sueño,
Elder Jason Ray