Dear Family and Friends,
How are your summers? Actually, dont tell me because i´ll only be jealous haha. We are just livin under water here, rain rain and more rain and so so humid, entonces no puedo secar mis ropas y estoy llevando ropas humidas todos los dias, que, como dicen las viajitas, van a resfriarme hasta los huesos. I just really love the sun, but besides that I really like my area. it took some getting used to after almost 5 months in my first area, but i am enjoying the members and investigators here. The only thing is sometimes it is hard to stay positive and hopeful. We face a lot of discouragement, and Sundays are like a psychological emotional test, because 8 or 9 investigators promised you they would come to church and only 1 or 2 come (maybe). And everyone promises to read a page in the book of mormon or say a prayer, but then when we visit them they didnt do either, because they dont have time to pray, etc, etc. and its just impossible that they can gain testimonies if they never pray, read, or attend! it is SO hard to get people to keep commitments, and so so extremely hard to get in contact with people or visit them consecutively, because they culture here does not allow for a schedule or commitments. However, i am trying to trust more in God, be more humble and realize this is his work, not mine, and that without his strenght i can do nothing. i know he prepares ways for people, i just have to have more faith that there are ways in which some day our investigators will be baptized, I will tell you about our three investigators who all inevitably will be baptized, but each have one giant problem hindering them during my transfers here in Paraiso, so i dont know if i will see their baptisms :(.
Gabriel is the man who i wrote about last time, who had his baptism date. I still have no idea exactly what happened, because he was so prepared. he found us in the chapel one , we didnt find him. hes been investigating for years, he has a huge doctrinal knowledge, he´s read more of the BOM than many of the members of our ward, and he told us he had no fears and his goal was not only baptism, but the temple. Then, 2 days before his baptism, we couldnt contact him. he had never not answered his phone (which is a tiny miracle here) and had always anxiously awaited us at his house. but the two days before his baptism, and the day of his baptism, he didnt answer any of our calls. we waited in the chapel with some members to see if he would appear, and he never came. He didnt come to church either. We finally found him in his apartment this week, after calling him through a private number. He acted very strangely and told us that the only reason he wasnt being baptized is because he has a new shift at his work and he cant attend sacrament meeting now. We were so confused because before he had been testifying about the church and acting as though no earthly thing could change his commitment. We talked about sacrifice and the importance of the baptismal covenant and promised that the bishop would stop by to visit him, but now the bishop can get in contact with him either.
Then there is Joel, the boyfriend of Jennifer whose family we recently reactivated. This family is amazing, and is not only active now, but acting as leaders in our ward. Joel is so ready to be baptized, he attends everyand every activity during the week, he bore his testimony in sacrament, is reading scriptures and praying with Jennifer every day in their home, and is an active and loving father to their baby. The only thing preventing his baptism is legal problems with their papers in order to get married. and these things can take a lot of time here. Thus i dont know if i will see his baptism but i really hope so.
Raiza is the feminist. We had an amazing lesson with her about the restoration. She has been taught by 6 or 8 other missionaries, so she has somewhat of a background, but we asked her what her feelings were now. She told us that she feels more comfortable with me and hna mullisaca than ever before, because we can relate with her and she can be sincere with us about her doubts. she said that through our lesson about the priesthood, this doubt is practically not a problem for her anymore, and she knows joseph smith really saw God and that the church is true. We were like PERFECT we need to set a goal for your baptism. We were going to extend a date for the first week of july, but then she told us her personal goal was for the END OF THIS YEAR. We asked why she thought she needed to take so much time, and she opened up a little and told us she had some major sins or problems from her past (as basically a hippee drugee) that she needs to work out herself, but she didnt tell us any details, and she is always afraid she will fail after her baptism with keeping the commandments. but she wouldnt budge on that she needs to work things out for months apparently. We were disappointed because we just want her to understand that she can be clean through her baptism, and will have the help of the Holy Ghost to fend temptation after her baptism. but we have another lesson this week and are going to try to help her understand repentance better. but even so, if she needs till the end of the year, it is okay with me, as long as she can truly stay strong enough to get baptized.
Besides this i have had some humbling experiences lately with some extremely impoverished families. There is the Galarza family, the mom and three daughters were baptized right before i got here, but now things are looking grim. they live in basically the ruined skeleton of a construction site or something, with tin as a roof, but it is completely open in the front. it always smells like human waste, and the floor is just rock. The mom has cancer, but no money to pay for treatment. the church was paying for a bit, and im not sure exactly what happened, but i think they werent using the money to pay for her treatments. but now the mom is so sick she cant even walk, and there are four little kids who are always alone, including a little handicapped girl. However, the members of our ward and the bishop are constantly visiting, and we visit often, and we called to have the elders and bishop give a priesthood blessing. it is a really sad situation all around, but the least we can all do is serve to bring a little light into their lives now through the gospel.
There is another family of a man and woman named Henry and Darlin. The wife was an old investigator that we searched out. Her and her two daughters attended church two sundays ago and told us how their father is a drunk and they dont know what to do. they live in a tiny rock "apartment" and out front is just tons of trash and dirty chickens and dogs and such. We had a really beautiful experience with them yesterday. We were out front amongst the trash and chickens and mud, and miracle of all miracles, the dad and mom and daughters were all present for our lesson. we talked about love and change in the family. the wife kept trying to accuse the dad for all his drunkeness and saying that she had threatened to leave him again and again, and he was accusing her of losing their money through gambling, and the daughters just break my heart, the 17 year old is hardened by her life i think so she acts like none of it really matters, but the 13 year old kept saying again and again she just doesnt want to fight with her family anymore. we told them we needed to focus on the good things about each other, and had them all say things they like about their family, we explained the sacrifice of Christ, which allows us to change if we can turn towards him, and asked if they would all say a family prayer each night until we visit again. then to end, we asked if we could say a prayer with them right there in the mud and trash, on our knees. we all knelt and held hands, and the father, who is the drunk, said the prayer. i dont know if they can feel the same things as us yet, but it is experiences like these that just show how much people need the plan and pattern of god in their lives. i dont know if this family will progress, they are deep deep in problems, but we are going to try to do what we can and trust in god, that maybe we can make a difference, if they can feel even a little bit that god loves and accepts them, and that change is possible.
thank you for all your support and prayers, i love you all