Monday, October 31, 2016

Baptism / Achieving Our Potential

This week we were blessed to participate in another baptism. About three weeks ago, we placed the 29th of October as a goal for her, but she vehemently denied that she would be ready so quickly. While she pushed back frequently whenever we mentioned it, I felt that if we became quiet about it and worked with her in completing all of her commitments, she would one of these days tell us she was ready. Such a day came last Saturday, and miraculously she was baptized on the first date we set with her. It was, I believe, the most spiritual baptism I've seen on the mission. Her testimony was very obvious. I was also very proud of her best friend, who's preparing to go on a mission after being a member a year, for preparing a thoughtful testimony with interesting scriptures for her. 

Our area is full of amazing members, who are good and genuine friends. It's important to remember everyone here has eternal potential, and praying for charity permits us to see people as they are. As Paul said in Romans 8:19, ¨The earnest expectation of the creature (creation, in context) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.¨ All of creation is waiting for us to achieve our potential...hopefully and anxiously. Until next week, my friends, happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Message of the New Testament

This week was great. We have an investigator who finally accepted the challenge to be baptized. She has had a testimony since we first started meeting with her a couple weeks ago. She was having visits from missionaries beforehand for over a year, her twin having already been converted. Since the beginning, after we encouraged her toward baptism, I had a pretty good feeling that if we tried to press her again she'd shrink even further. At the same time, I figured if she still kept all of her commitments, kept feeling the Spirit so strongly, she would inevitably tell us one of these days, "Elders...I think I'm ready now."  And so it was.  This was quite miraculous. While we haven't been able to reach the full extent of our zone goals as far as baptisms go this month, we were still able to have a very successful month, and she told us just about the last day possible in which we could still set a date for October. I'm grateful for that. 

I've been thinking this week on the message of the New Testament. We have just a bit of information on who our Savior was and what He did in His life. Really, what we have is a detailed account of Him healing blind people, cripples, the diseased, and the deaf. Of course, this is a very heartwarming story, but still I wondered, why is that the central emphasis of the story of Christ? Why is that Christianity's story?  I realized it's because the whole point of the Gospel is that we can be healed. We're hammered with this doctrine that Christ can heal anything to make us remember that through His Atonement, He can fix us up too, be it physical, mental, or spiritual. Our belief system is one of becoming whole and shaking off the dust of a harsh life into purity and immortality. The Gospels are all one big metaphor for the Atonement. That helped me appreciate how central it is to my life -- the power that Christ has to take the hits and let us overcome our trials. I know that He has a plan for each of us, to make us whole. 

Until next week, my friends!

Monday, October 17, 2016

How We Treat Others

Hello, all! This will be a very short update, but I had a hard-working week with a baptism. 

I was thinking this week how important it is to treat others how they ought to become and not how they are, as President Eyring mentioned in conference. I think we have a firm power in the reality of the lives of others as we build others up.  I think as we treat all as equal children of God, we'll be lifted in our spirits as well. 

Wow, that really was short! Nevertheless, I hope you all have a wonderful upcoming week.

Monday, October 10, 2016


Happy P-Day! This week went by fast and included fun activities, such as a parade as the church did a blood-drive. Kids do parades all the time here for their schools- they usually mope while their teachers shout what they're representing or who they're celebrating. We also started some zone goals to make everyone pumped for October. This is going to be an amazing month, so we're working particularly hard to reach high goals. Amid all that, I started thinking about how important sincerity is in the work. I think insincerity is one of the deadliest traps. In any routine, it's inevitable that the reasons we do things slowly shift from sincerity to comfort. I thought of some ways to save our sincerity in whatever we're doing.

1. Change. The most difficult thing, in most cases, is change, which means stagnation will bring ease which will bring apathy. We need always be changing because that´s where we are challenged. As we frequently seek to give something more, I think we save our sincerity. I believe this is particularly true on the mission. We ought to frequently adjust and heighten our goals in order that our sentiments are as true as possible.

2. Continual Self-Evaluation. I don´t know how often we really use our time to think. We have a great many activities during the day and it seems whenever we've got downtime we turn to either music or movies to let someone else think for us. When we are thinking, I think it´s common to get hung up on hypothetical situations and run them into the ground in your head. I think the most effective way to use time to think is to evaluate yourself, and where you are, and why you´re doing what you´re doing, and your goals, and why you have those goals, and try and stretch your ability to think and develop ideas. Or, in other words, continual repentance. That's the kind of thought method that gets us somewhere, and gets us to know ourselves. My Dad emphasized that frequently in our Family Home Evenings, and my Mom used to guide us in exercises as kids to help us think clearly. 

3. Prayer. Praying always makes me more sincere, because I have to acknowledge that He knows me perfectly, which means I have to spend a lot more mental effort on portraying my real desires for Him. There's no use lying, after all. If I've gotten into a routine, then I don't know how much good that does. Elder Bednar once said we don't have to try really hard to think of new things to say to avoid routine, but rather focus on really meaning what we say and then acting on it.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts this week. I hope you all continue to have good days and weeks and find relief in being sincere with yourself and others.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Investigator Progress / General Conference

This week, everything seemed to turn out exactly right. We explained to a couple how they couldn't keep living together and receive the blessings of the man's baptism and the woman's reactivation. This is usually a game-stopper because everyone here lives together, and no one bothers with marriage. Yet, as one of the many miracles of this week, they said, "Sure!" and we set a goal for the following week. 

Another boy the missionaries were teaching before I got here recently decided he wanted to get baptized, and we worked out a plan with him to iron out his doubts. 

Another one of our golden less-active/investigator couples suffered the lowest blow of the week, being victims of a serious robbery, losing about 6000 soles. That'll continue to be a struggle, but they've determined to not let it interfere with the marriage or the subsequent baptism. This is actually a sizable act of faith, since marriage takes money here.  

Later, one of the go-nowhere contacts we made (I'm super busy, I can't talk right now...yeah, yeah, come back tomorrow!!) turned into a great new investigator the next day who changed his life five years ago through Alcoholics Anonymous and is looking for the next step to get closer to God. 

At the end of the week, we met with other great families, including two dramatic teenage twins- one who was already baptized and one who's still waiting. She said she had questions the other missionaries couldn't answer and left her confused.  I mentally braced myself to give delicate answers to sensitive church topics, when she asked, "Why do we need the Book of Mormon when we already have the Bible?" I don't know what the other missionaries were thinking, but we answered it with ease and she said she felt a lot more sure afterward, and that she's ready to give an extra effort to find out if it's true. My favorite part was after our member gave his testimony, and she raised her hand and dramatically said, "You know, something, hermano? When you talk, somehow... I know that what you say is the truth." Slay ém, Emilio. 

Of course, our sense of joy this week was doubled by General Conference, the theme of which in part, as far as I could see, was joy and thanksgiving. President Nelson spoke on the indomitable joy that can conquer all situations when we are focused on Christ. President Eyring spoke on the importance of finding joy and thanksgiving in Sunday services, which Elder Davies said ought to be filled with "majestic awe" and "profound thanksgiving".  President Monson spoke on how wonderful it is that we know the Plan of Salvation, and what that can mean in our lives. To that same theme, President Uchtdorf said, "Does it not fill our hearts and minds with wonder and awe to contemplate the Great Plan of Happiness our Heavenly Father has prepared for us? Does it not fill us with unspeakable joy to know of the glorious future of all who wait upon the Lord?" What struck me was the sincerity with which they said it; their voices choked with emotion and their faces beaming as they shared how much happiness it brought them. I know they are servants of God, and I know life is certainly meant to be joyful.