Wow! What a week. This week was really hard. We walk a lot and its really hot, and then it rains profusely. But I’m enjoying all of it.
Okay here we go.
WE HAD A BAPTISM THIS WEEK! Well, actually 4. So remember that family I mentioned? Well okay, here’s the actual situation with them. They are from San Andres, but they moved here a few years ago. This week we met with them every day for an hour because the dad wanted him and his family to be taught everything we had to offer. The parents and the oldest daughter had previously been baptized, but they hadn’t been to church for 6 years. So we got the opportunity to baptize 4 of the kids!! What a fantastic family. What a special experience that was! I got to baptize two of the kids, and my companion baptized the other two. There’s this guy in the ward who was a witness of the baptism. He really really likes to correct people, so when I baptized them, he waited until they had both walked into the changing rooms and then claimed that I said both baptismal prayers wrong. So I did them again. And I said the parts that he claimed I missed a little louder than the other words. My companion, the Branch Prez and even the people I baptized said I got it right the first time. Good thing I was so happy, I might’ve been a little frustrated with him.
Then we got to confirm them that following Sunday and they are full blown, FAITHFUL members of the church. Juana said the prayer to close the baptismal service and it was amazing. I don’t really want to write what she said to be honest, because it was really sacred, but she talked a lot about how she was happy her family could be eternal. Then everyone watched as the whole family tearfully hugged for seriously 15 minutes and congratulated each other. It was pretty incredible. And now we’re back to work!
We have another kid named E who wants to be baptized, but his mom won’t let him. His dad actually wants him to be baptized (not enough to talk to his wife about it) and actually signed the paper but we have to respect both parents so we can’t go ahead with it. E’s grandma is a member, but she hasn’t been able to convince her daughter to let her granddaughter be baptized. We prayed and fasted so much (he’s the first person we met here..so we’ve been working on this for quite a while) but I finally got an answer to my prayer to not worry, the Lord knows his timeline and will take care of it. We did everything we could and of course we are going to still work with him and his family, but I trust the Lord.
I went on splits with one of the Zone Leaders, Elder L. He’s an awesome guy! I learned a lot from his wisdom and experience. We ate mondongo at a members house. Mondongo is basically cow stomach soup. Elder L had trouble speaking in English when we talked in English together…I really hope I’m like that in 2 years! I also watched as he masterfully acted as a marriage counselor for this couple. But in reality he didn’t do a ton…he just set up an environment for the Spirit to work in their hearts. It was amazing to see the immediate results of our (mainly his) lesson.
Also I got a few packages! Thanks to my grandparents and of course the Ocean Goddess for their love and their candy! I gave my companion some pop rocks (he never had them before), and pretending like I didn’t know what was going on, as he asked me “can you hear that?”, “whats going on?”, “ELDER they’re exploding in my mouth what do I do!?” and then eventually I told him they were supposed to pop in your mouth. He’s a funny guy. It was actually his birthday this week! We are actually allowed to take an hour off from work around 6 to go to dinner or eat, and we usually would just disregard that and work but on Saturday we actually used it and bought a little pizza and ate it together for his B-day. Also I gave him one of my ties that he really loved.
Okay so in addition to the huge amounts of lizards in Veracruz, there are dogs everywhere! And we have a little pack of them outside our house. There’s about 6 and all they do is fight. And these fights are vicious!! I saw one dog actually rip off another dogs ear and then go for his neck…I jumped out there because all the dogs are scared of me and I stopped the fight. They’re fun to chase away every morning.
So we didn’t contact as much this week because we’ve been teaching a lot of lessons, but a lot of the time we will show up to a house and the people we want to see won’t be there, but their mom or cousin or relative will be. At one such house we asked for Maria, who of course wasn’t there, but her mom came to the door. We talked to her for a minute and then asked “Ha platicado con misioneros antes?” which means “Have you talked with missionaries before?” and she replied “I’m a Jehovahs Witness.” And it was a little late and I was feeling a bit sassy so I said “Cool! Have you talked with missionaries before?” Elder Rod maintained his laughter–he thinks its hilarious when “gringos get sassy”–and we talked to her a little bit about the restoration. It was nice but it didn’t go anywhere.
So the next day we were walking to an appointment but decided to knock on this one door. A lady answered and invited us in. We started talking. Whenever we teach the first lesson we always blow through the first part because everyone believes in God, Jesus, the creation, and that God loves them. To be honest I wouldn’t even know how to teach that to an unreceptive person because thats just common sense to people here. She then asked “Hmm..okay so what do you guys believe to be manifestations of the Spirit?” and we opened to Galations (spelling? its Galatas in spanish) 6:22-23 and talked about the fruits of the spirit. and she was like “No not the fruits, the manifestations.” We were perplexed. We then said “you know, I don’t know if were on the same page. What do you think they are?” She then said, “The gift of tongues. Only the gift of tongues.” She then referred us to some book in Acts…maybe chapter 13? not sure. But, in summary, she said that the only way she felt the spirit and worshipped god was when she was speaking jibberish. That was the gift of tongues to her. And no one could understand her except God himself (I definitely agreed with that last part…). We then talked about how that was a gift of the spirit, but not the only manifestation of it.
I would invite all of you to study 2 Nephi 10:20-25. Our mission president has instructed us to study the Atonement every day and primarily teach about it, and I think that is a beautiful scripture to share with members about the Atonement.
Okay another funny story. So we were walking home in the rain and this guy behind us was like “Adios guapos!” and, well, Elder Rodriguez doesn’t really like that kind of stuff. He turned around and said “What did you say!?” The dude realized that Elder Rodriguez was a bit more hostile between the two of us. He then took a particular interest in me. He invited me to a drink, and when I said I didn’t want to and I didn’t drink he invited me to a soda with him. Then he waved off Elder Rodriguez suggesting that he should leave us alone. I got a horrible feeling in that moment. We were by a few restaurants and at this point everyone was watching us because this guy kept persisting and I kept politely refusing. I mean, we really are the image of the church and I was extremely annoyed and frustrated but I didn’t want that to show because it wasn’t really about me. I started getting a little concerned because I had tried to walk away a few times but this guy persisted in following me. Eventually one of the guys eating/watching said “Hey ______ (offensive term), leave the gringo alone he doesn’t want soda.” And finally we were able to go. It was an interesting experience. Elder Rodriguez was de-steaming the whole way home, hahaha.
Anyway, thats about all I have time to share! Fantastic week.
Keep up the good work. Love you guys!!
Have fun with everything! The mission is hard sometimes…like when I have to walk across an entire city to find out the person I was trying to teach isn’t home…and then you find a donkey and mess around with it for a minute!! Enjoy the little things.