Dear Family and Friends,
This week i got sick for the first time on my mission. my companions had the same thing, each of us about one day apart. it was horrible, like my whole entire body was aching, but luckily it wasnt dengue. so anyway our excitement level has been a little down this week, but i am slowly recuperating now haha.
This week will be having the baptism of Gabriel. Its going to be so great, he is so ready. He was just one of those auto-baptisms that fell into our area by chance. He has been an investigator since 2010, has attended church and general conference, and when he finally was ready to baptize, he moved into our ward because of school. so we literally only had to help him integrate into our ward for 3 sundays, and review the missionary lessons that he basically already knows by heart. So, we werent really a part of his conversion process, but its a privilege to know him because his story of searching the truth for almost 4 years is so impressive, and now he is completely solid. unlike a lot of other converts who baptize within months, he really really understands that baptism is just the entrance and that his true goal is the temple.
Besides Gabriel we are also working with an 18 year old name Mario. he is a QUADRUPLET!! haha there are only two sets of quadruplets in bolivia. i just want to baptize him and his 3 quadruplet sisters because it would be so different and cool haha but i think his conversion is going to take a long time. Mario and his sisters live in a house together without adult supervision, because like so many other parents here, their parents are in spain or argentina working and their kids just live on their own for years. But all mario does is go to university during the week and parties on the weekend. We almost dropped him because although he is very interested in the lessons and says it all makes perfect sense, he cant imagine his life without alcohol. but then he attended church two sundays in a row! we couldnt believe it. he said that he felt something different and real from the members, something he had never felt in catholic mass. like the people were genuinely interested in him and are sincerely trying to live good lives. obviously he felt the spirit of being at church. but the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity are huge hindrances for him so i dont know how much farther we will get with him.
My favorite family, the Clavijo Family, was inactive for years, until two sisters before us found them while street contacting. they didnt even want to let the missionaries in, but i think because they were girls they let them in, and they ended up feeling the spirit again. this is a family whose dad was a high councilor, and him and his wife have four daughters. They were converted about 8 years ago and sealed in the temple and everything, but fell away after some members did some unimaginably bad things, including that their oldest daughter was kidnapped by a returned missionary. however three companion sets have worked with them now, and i was able to be a part of something so cool. We had a family home evening with them and our bishop and his wife. we thought maybe the bishop would lead everything, but Bro Clavijo took control right away. he bore testimony and told us that as a family, they had made the decision together that they were all going to return. his wife was crying and also bore testimony, and two of his daughters as well. It was incredible. this was about 3 weeks ago, and since then they have attended every, and activities during the week, accepted callings, and the dad went with his daughter to Cochabamba to do baptisms in the temple with the youth. yesterday he bore testimony in sacrament about this experience. and to our surprise, the boyfriend of the oldest daughter who we have been teaching and teaching, and who will be baptized as soon as their papers for marraige are cleared, also bore his testimony in sacrament. after the dad told us he didnt know what we had done in order to get Joel to bare his testimony in church, but that he wanted to thank us.
We also met with Raiza again yesterday, the feminist socialist who has troubles with the priesthood. We used a terrific talk from the priesthood session of conference about the keys of the priesthood by dallin h. oaks that talks specifically about women, and how women use priesthood authority in all of their callings when they are set apart for these callings by a priesthood holder. We talked about how we have different responsibilities in order to have order and maximize the number of people blessed in the kingdom of God on earth, but how this in no way means we are unequal. then we shared my fave scrip about the priesthood in D&C 121. It clearly talks about how the spirit of God is literally offended if the priesthood is used for unrighteous dominion, for vanity or pride, etc, but that the only way it can be used correctly is with humility and love and to bless the lives of others and not to benefit the ego of the user. Raiza started to cry and marked the verses in her own triplet. She said that she has not been baptized because she could not understand why men like her uncle and father had the priesthood, but were often very very bad examples, but someone like her mother who had always been the faithful one, could not have this power of god. it just breaks my heart to hear things like this. its so true. there are so many mothers and wives here who are clinging to the gospel because they know it is true and are trying to help their broken families, but the husbands and fathers dont take things seriously and do things that hurt their wives and children. We bore testimony to Raiza that when a man is using his priesthood authority correctly he will not be a bad example, he will respect his wife and they will make all of their decisions together. he will understand that the power of god is not a dominating force to be used for the vanity of his ego but to enrich the lives of others when he as a possesor of this power increases in humility and personal worthiness in order to better serve. i used my own dad as an example in my testimony, because my father knows the worth of women, he relies on my mother as his equal, and he increases in humility and love every year. this is the manifestation of when priesthood power is used correctly, not brute dominion and authority over others. We told Raiza to reread those verses in D&C and to pray specifically about the priesthood, and that God could give her an assurance and security that no book or professor could give her. She told us she would and we will be meeting with her again this week to check her progress. We are praying that she will finally be able to accept the invitation to be baptized after all these years!
Besides all of this, i had to give a talk in a multi zone conference this week haha. I was so nervous because i am the "youngest" missionary in the mission who is not from a spanish speaking country, as in no other north americans have come after me. so i was super nervous about my spanish. and president had asked me to speak on why we are on our missions, why we push forward, and why we complete our missions (because we have had about 3 girls go home early in the last 6 months, and a bunch of boys about 8 months ago). but everything went great, and i was able to clearly give my talk in spanish haha.
love you all!