What a fun week it sounds like you had in Mexico! It was so cute to read about Melanie loving the sea shells. I`m so glad you went. It`s important to take trips.
So how are politics????? Someone tell me! It`s November 2012 and I know NOTHING. It`s killing me. Who`s winning? Also, whenever anyone this week learned I`m from the estados unidos, they said there were strong winds there. I asked where and they just shrugged and said in the United States. It sounds like there was a hurricane in New Jersey? Is everyone ok? Just curious. I love America, what can I say.
Also, some missionaries talk about sending Christmas presents home and stuff.....sorry if you`re expecting something because I have no money and no time to send anything. It would be pretty awesome to send you something Paraguayo, but you`ll have to wait 11 more months. Hopefully I`ll have a baptism between now and Christmas and that will be the best present of all, no? Less than two months until I can talk you all on Skype! So excited!
Last Sunday as we were leaving the house headed for a with-member lesson with Marian and Jorge, I had the impression to take a Book of Mormon with me. I usually always forget to have one on hand in my bag. And it didn`t make sense to take one to a lesson with Marian who already has a Book of Mormon. But as we were walking to her house, we passed a young father in our neighborhood out putting ant killer on a tree. I decided to ask him his name because, well, he is our neighbor and I haven`t met him yet. Before even knowing who we are or what church we represent, he invited us to sit down. He said, "You share the word of God, no?" I answered that yes we did, and told him we are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (I`ve said that at least 1 million times by now but I love it every time, still). His name is Osvaldo and his boss at his work in Asuncion is a member, he said. Osvaldo said he used to be Catholic just because his mom baptized him into the church, but that a year ago a co-worker invited him to an evangelical church called Buenas Nuevas (Good News) in Caacupe, and he was pretty much born again, and is a die-hard believer now. We didn`t have much time but we shared the first lesson in about 10 minutes with his beautiful wife and two little children, and he had a lot of questions about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and I gave him the Book of Mormon that I conveniently had, thanks to the Spirit. He is SOOOO golden! We left walking on air that we had found a beautiful family, a true answer to many prayers.
We went back on Thursday and he said that he had read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith`s testimony, and he loved how Joseph Smith talked so much of Jesus Christ, because anything and everything that has to do with Christ he loves. He respects us as missionaries so much. He just thinks it is so admirable that we dedicate our lives to this. He was like, "I mean, the United States!? That is so far away! And to leave your family! You two are like the apostle Paul!" Hna Quito wisely explained in four words why we do what we do, "Porque es la verdad" (Because it’s the truth). We left him 3 Nephi 11 to read and asked him to pray.
We went back on Saturday to invite him to church, and he was a little hesitant about everything. He said that when he reads the Bible it touches his heart and he knows it is from God, but the Book of Mormon is just another book, written by men. I asked him if he had read anything past the introduction, and he admitted he hadn`t. He is judging the book by the cover, pretty much. He said he told one of his church buddies he visited with us, and I`m pretty sure his friend put some junk into his head. He was doubting a lot in that visit and my heart was sinking. Before we had a chance to invite him to church he told us he was going to his church in Caacupe the next day with his family. But he said that he needs to do some more investigating and said that he just might go to our church on Sunday the next day, alone, because his wife doesn`t like any of this Mormonism stuff. He asked us to pray for him, that he can find the truth. He truly does want to find the truth, which makes him a needle in a haystack. Oh, I hate Satan!!!!
Oh, as we left that visit there was not one thing I wanted in the whole world more than for this man in Paraguay to understand and to feel the truth of the church of Jesus Christ. I was already fasting but I wished there was something more I could have given up to show God just how badly I wanted Osvaldo to feel the Spirit. I have been praying constantly for him ever since. He didn`t come to church, but we are going to visit him tonight. I will keep you posted. But please, please, please, pray for Osvaldo. Pray that he will open his heart and truly feel the Spirit. Pray he will read the Book of Mormon and give it a chance.
We worked sooooo hard this week and put in so many hot, sweaty hours and pushed ourselves to do hard things. We worked a lot with members. We made a lot of visits on Saturday with members because inviting someone to church with a member present makes it easier for them to attend, because they know someone. But even with that and passing by houses to walk to church with investigators, we had no one in church. We`re putting on a special noche de rama (branch night) on Thursday so that members can invite their friends and we can find new investigators. There are never any activities in this branch, because no one has callings! Our branch president is....not super active and is pretty difficult, but we are taking the kill-him-with-kindness approach to motivate him. Anyway, I`m sure this isn`t very interesting to any of you, but for me it`s my life right now.
Yesterday in church I bore my testimony about how when we know we are children of God, everything just makes so much sense. If God is our loving Heavenly Father, of course he will give us a church with all the truths and the authority, of course he will make it possible for families to be together forever, of course he will guide us through prophets, etc. I found myself telling the branch that if they didn`t know that God loves them, they need to pray that night and ask, "Heavenly Father, do you love me?" and promised them they would feel the love of God. It was a great testimony meeting and how I wish we could have had investigators there to enjoy the spirit. But at least I can say, I’m at peace, that we declared the gospel with the sound of a trump and we have cried repentance. We did everything in our power to get people to church.
I love you, family. The more I live on my mission the more I realize how important the family is. Just looking at a picture of a young family in a plan of salvation pamphlet this morning I got emotional thinking about how central the family is in God`s plan. A loving mom, dad, and children. That`s how it is supposed to be. I am so content to be a missionary right now and I love every minute, but having my own family is what I look forward to the most.
Also, Hope, and every other girl who wants to serve a mission, I found this quote recently that Russell M. Nelson said in 1985, "The influence of the young women of the church, like a sleeping giant, will awaken, rise, and inspire the inhabitants of the earth as a mighty force of righteousness." With thousands of young women turning in mission applications, is prophesy fulfilled or what?! But really, they are just joining the ranks of the already-mighty force of women of the church, whether they be sunbeam teachers or studious newly weds, or stay at home moms, or grandmas raising grandchildren, or the faithful visiting teacher. May we all give a little more to add more might to our mighty force of righteousness!
Quiero que todos sepan que amo a nuestro Salvador, Jesucristo, con todo mi corazon. El es mi fuerza y mi motivacion. Les quiero. (I want everyone to know that i love our Savior, Jesus Christ, with all my heart. He is my strength and my motivation. I love you.)
Your Sister Missionary,