Monday, September 30, 2013

"Buenas" from San Lorenzo

The road here is a bridge over a dry river bed.  Unless it rains.  
The rain fills up the 3-4 feet until the bridge.  As you can see, 
the water doesn`t have far to go.  I wore my boots this day, 
for which I was very grateful.  They really are waterproof!

This week was pretty good, the big story I have is that in the huge storm we had (the one where the water is up to the bridge), part of our roof collapsed (a small part) in the other room. My clothes got wet, and a lot of my old letters, (including some cards) drowned. I am grateful now that the Lord reminded me to back up my pictures and my letters. I still have all of them on my camera.

The new camera is great. Things are pretty good. My companion told me he thinks I know more Spanish than an Hermana that has been here almost 3 months. I am grateful now for my semester of Spanish at BYU.

We had a baptism this week! Jaimie is 11 (but says 12) and was kind of nervous. I think it helped to see the baptism of some other Elders first. She really seemed to enjoy the experience. We are also working to prepare her sister and try to reactivate their parents.

Our area is good, and we are plenty busy right now. We should hopefully get a bunch of people to conference to get them excited. We might also have a Wedding in October. Which means plenty of pictures and stuff.

Our branch is small, but growing, and we usually have a baptism every week.

The missionaries are well known in this area, and we say a lot of ¨Buenas¨ which basically means anything from hello or goodbye depending on if you are coming or going. We also use it to announce we have arrived somewhere. It seems more popular than Hola in our area.

There are lot of dogs in our area, and this one was especially cute. He reminded me of a little stuffed dog I used to have called Aragorn.

My spiritual thought this week is about conference. To help myself prepare for the conference this week, I have been reading the last conference. As part of the spirit of the whole thing, I try to make sure I can be open to revelation, and it has strengthened my testimonies that the Heavens are not closed.

For some reason, my study has seemed to focus on how to teach and what kind of person I want to be. Both good topics for a missionary. I especially like how important it is that we build our testimonies slowly over time, and then they are strong.

A thought that came to me that I used a lot is from 2 Ne 31, when Nephi talks about baptism. Probably wherever you are in the world, or whoever you are talking too, they are a little taken aback when their baptism gets close. We had several investigators that were nervous when we started talking about dates. There seems to be an idea, that I even have thought, that baptism is the end of conversion.

For the missionary, we think that because that is usually when we turn the person over to the fellowship of the members. For the investigator, it is because it is the first big commitment that they need to make. It can seem so big, that they are reluctant to do it because of just how big it seems.

I shared several times this week when Nephi talks about Baptism as the gate to eternal life. It is far from the end of our conversion, it is the beginning of years of enduring to the end. We will not know everything, we may not even have a solid testimony that the church is true, but when we decide to follow the example of Jesus Christ, and make a covenant with him, he blesses us.

I think that it is important, that the first thing you do after baptism is called el don (gift) of the Holy Ghost. Because it is really a gift, something that God has given us to help us with our continued conversion. It is the gift that allows us to learn and to change, and to gain a testimony that has incredible strength.

To those of you who feel that your testimony is not as strong as you want it to be (yes, I am quoting Elder Holland a little) I urge you to start reading the scriptures. As you read them prayerfully, and write notes and thoughts as you read, you can feel the spirit testify to you that the church is true, and that God loves you. There is nothing more comforting than this knowledge, that you know who you are, and what you can become. You can become like God, living with him forever in glory.

The big house is the house of the owner of our house (the one with the person in front of it).  I believe they are a mixed member family.  The smaller cute red one is ours.
(See if you can find the error in the picture, look at the swimming pool)