This was my first week here in Cerro de Pasco with Elder Phillips. It was a good week. I'd like to mention some particular instances of note during the week. First, was our celebration of Holy Week here. Easter's not really a holiday...it´s a celebration of the whole last week of Christ's life. Ben-Hur and the Ten Commandments are the crowd favorites playing on every screen in the market selling DVDs. We put up a tarp, put up seven giant posters of Jesus, one representing His actions every day of the week, and gave away free pictures of Christ to the crowds. We set it up in all the areas in the zone, but our area was the most successful. Crowds upon crowds gathered around to take one. Some were gracious and surprised that they were free, when most everything of this nature costs something here. Others felt entitled to take as many as they want and ignored our pleas of one for each person.
We had some other interesting experiences in the week. One came from a contact who seemed very knowledgable of the wikipedia page about the Mormon church, and had questions about all the topics missionaries need to be trained to handle. We assured him we´d come the next day and answer all his questions. We arrived the following afternoon, and he and his older brother, young men in their early twenties, came prepared with many printed, annotated pieces of paper of what the internet has to say about the Church. Surprisingly enough, I absolutely loved the experience. The older brother was especially sincere and respectful, but nevertheless wanting to know every topic under the sun that's controversial about the Church. We animatedly went in depth to answer their questions...I've loved studying this stuff, particularly from a scholarly point of view, and I knew that was what they wanted, with enough enthusiasm and love for the subject to bring the Spirit and testify it all depends on the truth of the Book of Mormon. We answered all the classic scriptures- no man shall add to the Bible, beware of angels bringing a new gospel, etc. In the end, the older brother was making his own connections to answer his own questions, profusely thanked us, and promised he'd read the Book of Mormon. It was wonderful.
On the other hand, our next visit was an interesting man and his family who, if I'm correct, is forming his own church group. This, of course, means he was far more interested in teaching us condescendingly about the Bible than listening to us. Nevertheless, when we could talk, we shared a lot of similar views on the teachings, with the addition of the magnificent claim that yes, not only COULD Christ establish his church once more, but he DID. On this second visit, it seemed more and more obvious he would keep interrupting our message to try and show his own knowledge with diagrams and everything.
I cut in and raised my voice and level of enthusiasm to ensure we could get to the end without interruption. Our message is, after all, remarkably simple- God's church is on the earth once more; we can know by asking God and depending on the Spirit; when one knows it is true, one should be baptized to receive all the blessings possible. On that line of logic, I bore my testimony of its certainty and challenged them to be baptized upon feeling the Spirit of its truthfulness. As they backpedaled into a theological debate on what was sin and when baptism would be appropriate, we thanked them and asked if we could close with a prayer. It was a memorable experience, more than anything because the Spirit was in the room and even if they didn't accept his witness, they felt him.
Well, the Church is true. We'll keep moving on up here. I hope you all have a wonderful week!