Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 66: Oh Babylon, Oh Babylon‏

My 4th (and final) week in San Cristobal turned out to be the cream of the crop. Even though I started things off pretty bummed out, things picked up the pace as the week went on. This last week was one that kicked me while I was already down in the dumps.
The biggest blessing was the fact that I have two legendary companions. Elder Linford and Elder Gudiel are two awesome missionaries, them and the scriptures were the things that really helped me to lift up my sprits and give me the faith to keep moving forward. My Californian buddy is getting ready go to home; he's only six weeks away! He has been teaching me that, even though things are rough, there are no excuses for not working your very hardest and enduring to the end.
And Elder Gudiel taught me the same lesson...just about the beginning of the mission: There are no excuses! Try your hardest! Even though the people may be hardened of heart, we must not cease preaching unto them!
There was a verse in Moroni that talks about that, which really impacted me: "And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God."
Sometimes, preaching the gospel unto the Laminates makes us sad, and causes grief unto our own souls, but the end result  makes things completely worth it. Imagine, Moroni was devastated when he lamented, "Oh ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! ...
But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return."
I felt a little bit like this here in San Cristobal.
I've learned so many things, preaching unto those who refuse to listen...and now I am so much more happy for to have those who will listen.
Edgar Solares, a 23 year old has been listening for a few weeks...and on Sunday he came to church. The chapel was full and spirits were raised. He's been reading the Book of Mormon and he believes that it's true. On the 9th of November he has committed to be baptized.
The Church is True my friends.
It's too bad that I won't be here to see the service. Last night, we received a call, saying that Elder Gudiel and I will both be leaving San Cristobal II.
I don't know how I feel about it...
But I'm sure glad that the Lord wanted to have a one-on-one session with me here in this area. And now, it's time to bid farewell to this babylon...

I'm almost done with the Book of Mormon too, Just wanted to share these Scriptures from Ether 12:
"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."

"And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 65: The Good, The Bad and The Baggy‏

The following definition is needed to be able to understand the following chapter of our story:
Baggy (adj.). (ba-ggiey) An extreme sense of homesickness, in which one is incapacitated by an overbearing feeling of hopeless and a missing of their past lives. Usually common among Latter Day Saint missionaries who are beginning and ending their service as Missionaries. Synonyms: Trunky, Homesick and bummed out. (see also, fiery dart of the adversary).
Being in a trio with a missionary who is close to finished and one who is just starting musters up a whole lot of baggy feelings.

We all know that Jesus told his disciples  "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62), his declaration was very clear, that all those who could not "leave their nets" were not made useful in the service of the Lord. Exhibit A: The Rich Young Ruler, Exhibit B: A Certain Companion that I had not too long ago. The Lord is clear: we are allowed to miss our homes and families...but in the moment that we become debilitated by such feelings, we've sunken our ship even before it's left the harbor.
And this, the "Old Ship Zion" cannot afford to sink.
Feelings of Bagginess usually come when the work is slow and our spirits are down. It's a time when we allow the Spiritual Cockroaches to embed themselves in our hearts a little bit and we permit ourselves to become disheartened and discouraged.
That, my friends, is a problem. And it's a dilemma that is all to common here in San Cristobal II, especially after sour-tasting weeks like the one that me and my Companions just passed through.
I'm not sure why, but almost nothing seemed to go our way this week.
It was overall...just hard.
It's too bad when that happens...
And it's not even like, "nothing went good at all this week! We're failures! Aaaahhh!" No. There were definitely miracles, I was able to see all of the blessings...but it was just a week where the ups seemed to out-measure the downs.
From the very beginning, on Tuesday things just started going downhill. All of our appointments fell through, people who usually would receive us started hiding behind their doorbells, there were few opportunities for finding new Investigators...and to top it all off, the cherry of this Ice Cream Sundae was the fact that it rained.
I can handle a little bit of water...but when the morning comes and all three of my pairs of shoes are soaked inside and out still...things get a little bit hard.
And what I learned was that the Lord knows that! He knows when we go through rough patches and when things are just hard, hopeless and baggy! He's been there too! And he doesn't want us to suffer like he did!
So, he gives us a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.
On Friday we went on divisions with one of my good friends, Elder Kundie...Elder Linford and I stayed in San Cristobal (the wilderness of our afflictions :)) and we just had a great time, working as hard as we could and just conversing between friends. At the end of the day we roasted marshmallows and talked about the mission and college.
It was a nice break.

On Saturday, at the end of a fruitless week we started to see some signs of success.
A man, his name is Joey.... he’s from California came up to us as we were knocking on doors in the late afternoon. he told us that he was a member of the Church...although inactive...he was here visiting his wife's family and he asked us if we could come by and visit him another day...his wife insisted, saying "I want the word of God to be in our house again!"
I like that attitude!
So, the Lord blesses us.
Even though it wasn't the best week ever, and I would be lying if I said that it wasn't...he loves us and helps us nonetheless. Even though we got into a bible bash with the Jehovah’s Witnesses on Sunday Afternoon, he blessed us with 5 referrals from the Bishop on Sunday Night.

The Church is true my friends!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 64: Concrete Jungle‏

After so many things that have gone on...a normal, ordinary week is almost unheard of, getting back into the routine is an out-of-body-experience. It's a fresh start, a chance to get off on the right foot again...and then just keep moving forward.
Sure, things are completely different...but in a way...familiar.
It's sweet.
On Tuesday morning we kicked off the week with interviews with President Caffaro. I found it funny that even after I left the Offices I've still seen President a good number of times. Overall the interview was good, the only downside was the fact that it ate up all the time we had that whole day, the sun was already low in the sky by the time we returned to San Cristobal and had a couple of hours to be able to go and work.
Wednesday was the first, regular work day that I have had in all of my time in my new area, after General Conference, Emergency Changes, and a PDay I was very ready to just go out and try my hardest.
Concrete jungle

That was the idea, at least...until all of our appointments fell through. My companions and I roamed San Cristobal, a concrete jungle, looking for the slightest chance at a visit...almost entirely in vain. Luckily we were able to find Edgar at home and talk to him. It was the second time he had listened to the missionaries, and the previous Saturday he made it to General Conference. He didn't have very many questions but I was able to see a sincere desire to follow Jesus Christ as we taught. At the end of the lesson we committed him to baptism on November 9th. Even though he wasn't able to attend church on Sunday, I have faith that he's going to be able to make it to this date.
On Thursday we had divisions with our District Leader Elder Montecinos (From Tuxla Gutierrez, Mexico....). We did a lot of walking that day, working with Members to try to move this work forward.
What we've been doing to receive referrals has been interesting. We ask the members to close their eyes and keep a prayer in their hearts as we, the missionaries, sing a hymn. When the song finishes, we ask them how they felt and what revelation they were able to receive regarding the people they knew that are ready to receive the gospel.
It's been a miracle, this week alone, we received 17 referrals.
We did that a lot on Thursday and were able to see the results! And that night we ordered Pizza...and it was fun.
Pizza Night with Elder Gudiel and Elder Montecinos (from Tuxtla Mexico) and Elder Linford behind the camera
Friday, Saturday and Sunday all passed us by like a blur...and after a rather hard week, things picked up by the end. More people were home and receptive to our message! We had a good number of lessons! And we found new investigators! I even received an excellent referral from an Area Seventy!
Tell you about it later...
Our companionship is going good. Things are a lot more fun in a trio! There is so much potential that is in this spite of everything.
I am very happy.

Cool Man!

Elder Gudiel

-Elder Monson

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 63: Three...It's a Magic Number‏

So at the end of last week, Elder Argueta decided that he was going to go home. No matter how many times I informed him that the decision that he was taking was the wrong one, and that doing this would not bring him any sort of happiness...he had made his decision and was in no attitude to change his mind.
And to be honest, I was tired of trying to convince him.
Elder Argueta had one last interview with President to make sure that he was sure about what he was doing. It only lasted about three minutes. Afterwards, I was called into president's office. I felt discouraged, beaten, betrayed and frantic in that moment...happy that I had done all that I could, but sad that it was not enough.
"I'm sorry for everything that has happened," I said.
President looked me in the eyes and told me, "What are you sorry about? Elder Monson, this is not your fault! You can't change the agency of others! I don't blame you one bit!" Then I felt like I had just had a great burden lifted from off of my shoulders...I had been so worried that I had done something wrong that it was eating me away from the inside...and at that point all I wanted was to just get a clean slate and try again. President continued, "now I've got to figure out what trio I'm going to be putting you in."
So when we got back home I started to pack and prepare myself to say, "Ta Ta" to El Tesoro.

Elder Argueta went back home on Thursday morning. Though I did not approve of his decision, I loved that missionary to pieces, and I hope that everything goes well for him in the future...
I spent all afternoon hanging out with Elder Prestwich in the offices and working out on the streets of Montufar again. It was fun to be able to go back and say hello to the Francos, Ana Victoria and Minor and felt like it had already been so long since I left that area, that their houses were foreign and familiar all at once.
The next morning we got a call from President, and I listened to Elder Prestwich as he spoke on the phone, "yeah....okay....San Cristobal? ...sounds good, we'll send an extra bed over there today..." He hung up, "Elder Monson, you're going to San Cristobal with Elder Linford and Elder Gudiel!"
I got all wide-eyed...why on earth was I going to be going to San Cristobal? I had heard of that area before, it is notorious as one of the hardest areas in the whole mission.
It's so difficult because it's so developed. All the houses there look like they could come out of a "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine, and in order to get into one of the hundreds of closed communities, you have to know somebody...
Meaning, it's a place where you have to work with the Members...or not work at all.
It's fun.
By lunchtime on Friday I was in my new area with my two new companions. Elder Linford is a missionary that will be finishing in December, he's from California, and the first companion that I've ever had that I've actually known before we were together. He's a great missionary and he's hoping to finish things off well. He's training Elder Gudiel, a Honduran Elder, who's super sweet. They were already a great companionship, so my hope is that I'm not coming in here to be a dead arm to them....
...we'll see.

On Saturday and Sunday we watched General Conference in the Stake Center. All of the English-Speakers went to the High Council room and enjoyed a spiritual feast (and also a physical feast on Root Beer and Gummy Worms...gotta love conference snacks). It was an incredible conference, and it went by incredibly fast too! I was surprised to see that it was all over.
But I loved every minute of it.
It was a great week...and I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for the San Cristobal Threesome...
It's gonna be great.