Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Some Noteworthy Stories

Yet another solid week has passed in the CCM, and this one was slightly more eventful than the previous ones. The schedule is mostly unchanging, which makes time run strangely. While my life generally carries on in the same manner it has in past weeks, I thought I'd share some noteworthy stories.

Lessons with Elder Burt: Each day, as I've mentioned before, companionships teach "pretend" investigators for about twenty minutes. The act is fairly realistic, with "pretend" one-room houses and teachers who take on well-crafted personas.  One night, we needed to convince our investigator to give up alcohol. He asserted he needed three years, since he had a heavy drinking problem. We wanted him to beat the obstacle in three weeks. It took a good deal of testimony and promises of God's help to change his mind. Yet he wasn't sure, so I decided to go out on a limb. With the depths of emotion from my heart, I looked into his eyes and said, "Yo veo en sus ojos el mismo miedo que puede tomar mi corazon."  Or, being interpreted, "I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me!" Subtly changing the words to make it sound somewhat reasonable, and hoping Lord of the Rings wasn't extremely popular in Peru, I continued.  "A day may come when your courage fails. When you turn back to the world, but it is not this day. This day you choose! An hour of alcohol, when your faith fails, but it is not this day. This day you choose! Between the gospel of Jesus Christ and the world, and I testify joy is in Jesus Christ."  I enjoyed the lesson immensely. And yes, he accepted the commitment to stop.

Proselyting: We had an opportunity to go proselyting with the missionaries in Lima as practice on Saturday, which was a memorable and heartfelt experience. It was magnificent being out in the city after being in the CCM for so long- finally doing the real work. We spoke to people in city parks and amid the bustling city.  Stray dogs wandered everywhere you looked in the city.  At one point, we travelled up into the rocky hills midst criss-crossing steep stairs into a land of poverty.  The houses were more or less four tin walls propped up against each other with a flat roof, perched on the flats of rough ground. It was hard to tell where the tattered garbage ended and the houses began. Dogs looked glum in the sun at every turn, as their fleas made friends with the children. We visited one house where a small monkey sat on a chair in front of the door, making the experience entirely more foreign. We shared some lessons with a few less-active members, including two small boys who came forth out of a house to learn about the scriptures in front. A gaunt woman was standing a little further in the house, and a child. Our guide missionary muttered something in Spanish to the affect of "don't say anything about...", but I didn't catch it.

The lesson of most interest was back down in the city near a park with a member and her investigating cousin. The woman was extremely enthused that I was going to Huancayo. Her father lives there and hopes to be baptized but, from what I could understand, has difficulty leaving the house at his age and contacting the church. She gave me his name and address, and I'm to give the mission home this information when I arrive. The highlight of the week, however, was in the restoration lesson that followed. I followed very little, and felt silly as my explanations clearly had little to do with what was being talked about. My guide and the other CCM practicing missionary (a Peruvian) took control for the most part. My impetuous, fellow CCM missionary had been fairly obnoxious the entire trip, and dismissive of my Spanish ability. Yet when I knew we were talking about Joseph Smith, I could come in and explain the story of Joseph Smith coming across James 1:5, and quote the scripture: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him."  I could look the investigator in the eyes and explain what then happened on an April morning, quoting Joseph Smith's own words in Spanish,  'I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it rested up on me. No sooner had the light rested on me, when I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, This is my Beloved Son- Hear Him!' There was little else I could say in Spanish aside from my testimony, and there was little else I could understand. I knew the woman spoke to me and said something of angels, and I knew before we left the man grasped my hand and sincerely thanked me for my words, eagerly taking a pamphlet on the restoration. When I got back to the CCM, we were given our scores from our guiding missionaries, and mine were terrible. He said my Spanish was clearly a challenge and gave me low numbers. So no, as to my strength, I am weak. But I think the trip was my favorite part of the week, all the same.

Elder Bednar visits us today, incidentally, so I'll certainly mention that experience in the following week. Thanks for reading!