"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." - Matthew 28:19-20
As usual, when conference time is here, there is no time to write, but I thought I would let you all know that I am healthy, happy, and having good experiences every single day. I am sending some pictures, of baptisms. Gustavo got baptized this Saturday! He's the best and is going on a mission someday. :)
I love you, I love this church, and I know its all true!
The emails have been replied to, the pictures downloaded, the congratulations to newly engaged friends delivered, which means that its time to sit down and write the big one- the epistle, as those in Palestine would refer to it as. I'm sorry that I dropped the ball with writing last week, things got crazy, the time ran out, and there was something we had to go to. So you were all placed on the altar of sacrifice. But this week I am rolling in time- So, to summarize:
- We got to help these two girls progress to a baptism two weeks ago. They were actually investigators of the elders, but they were just too shy with them to progress. And when your investigators are too shy to deal with you, who do you call? Us, apparently. We had to get their trust, then teach as simply and clearly as we could, with visual aids and examples and everything, and now they understand in the capacity that they have to understand the Gospel. So we went early last Saturday morning and got them all dolled up (even though it was about to be washed away, don't ask me why, its a big thing for them here) and then we went to the river and they were both baptized! It was really neat, and it helped their mom see that there really is a difference in the ordinance of baptism when you look for the divine authority of God. Their names are Rosaura (14) and Damaris (9), yet again, close in age with some of my favorite little girls. I had to pull out every little child trick I had up my sleeve to get these girls to trust me, something that my sisters have well prepared me for. I love teaching girls! Having your mom so dedicated to YW and having so many little sisters will do that to you. Getting them to church will be a challenge. They live far away and their dad takes all their money to go do bad things. But, this weekend, our Investigator Renso is getting baptized, and he has a truck, and maybe after he gets a little more established he can take them! That would be such an answer to their prayers, and ours. They also have an older sister named Beatrice, who after seeing them get baptized, wants to do the same thing, so this Saturday, we are going to the river again!! She is 16, a little heavy, and she cant read or write. We don't know how or why she doesn't go to school, but her little sisters do, but you can just see it in her eyes that she has absolutely no self worth. She doesn't feel important, and cant believe that we trek up to her house just to visit her. She will be so blessed by this Gospel, and a deeper understanding of who she really is, but dang, she has got to really put her part in and try. She is so shy, it took us over 30 minutes to try and get her to say the closing prayer, and finally ended with her doing that thing where they just repeat what you say. But she is getting there, and is different every time that we visit.
We have also been teaching this kid named Gustavo, whose mom we found on the way to a baptismal service. Hes 12 years old and is AWESOME. He loves the idea of having the priesthood. He is set for this Friday. His parents want to baptized as well, but they both need to be divorced so that they can get married, and that's like a year long process. So their out for awhile, but I know Gustavo will help them out.
We are in the process of reconstructing. All the spots for callings are basically open. So that's what we have been working on with President. We are hoping that if we have more people in more callings then Church will go way smoother. And it is. Its getting better. We are in change of Young Women, Relief Society, and Primary, which means we first have to find out everything we can about them, which means that we study the red manual like CRAZY. We are in the process of putting together binders for the people that will be called to be presidents of these organizations and then we are going to have a boot camp week of training, where we sit down with them, watch as many training videos as we can get our hands on, do practices, answer questions, and tell them that they need to fill their presidency as soon as they can. Then the next week is training as a presidency, and the week after that is an "observation week" where we see how they do, and if there is anything weird going on, we correct it, and then when they are functioning independently, we then spend the next week visiting and strengthening all of the members in their organization, especially those who aren't coming. And that list is big. There are 500+ members here, and sacrament meeting attendance of about 70. And then, we answer questions as they come, and help when asked, but we let them go off and work. So that's the plan. But we cant start until we have presidents. So that has put everything on hold.
The work here is different. We are on our own, there really are no leaders that know what they are doing, which means that we need to give them the training they need. Our goal is to have a functioning Branch council in 2 months. We have been doing a lot of prep work, like finding training videos and thinking about how we can do things in an interactive way that will help them learn. Usually, this is not the missionaries job, but we have been given a special commission from President to do exactly what we are doing. Its been tough though, because there are some missionaries in our district that have been so programmed to baptize that they see any other efforts directed at strengthening the branch as a sinful waste of time. And obviously, we are not here to do that. We are here to do the Lords will. So we sat down and prayed about it as a companionship, and when we ended, one phrase came to my mind, and it was "Save my sheep."
Save my sheep.
Alma 17 and Ezequiel 34
Not just investigators, but less actives. That's how we are going to work, through the presidents and the less actives, because if we don't, everyone we baptize will walk in one door and out the other, never to return. More on that next week,
Another week. Sorry, don't have too much time today, as I was working on someones speech for them (coughhannahcough) but I will hit you up with some highlights: (Sorry I can't send an individual email G&g Palmer-next week!)
-This area needs serious help with the members. We have decided that our investigators progressing towards baptism are amazing, and we will still visit them and everything, but what we really need to do is strengthen the base. The leaders need so much training. We literally need to take them by the hand and help them out. We had to talk to the YW president because she just left her YW and went to RS to bear her testimony. Things like that happen all the time. But the good news is that we are getting a new branch president, who will be younger than 85 years old, so that should help. We are going to make binders for all the organizations, with calendars, responsibilities and other things inside, so that might help. Mom, thats so up your alley, will you send me any ideas you have?
-Its getting.... less hot here. Kind of. Or I think we might be getting used to it. And, after an initial attack of 100+ mosquito bites, they have started to kind of leave me alone. I can still count on 3 or 4 new ones every day though.
-The giant spiders in our room have disappeared. I think they are all under the bed. All of them. And their families.
-We can't believe all the little secrets we are finding out here. This was the "punishment zone" for misbehaving elders before, so theres a lot that we discover every day. I wont say any of them, but all I can say is the church is true, and thats all that matters. The church is true the church is true the church is true.
-School started for everyone here today. Summer is over! Hahaha, all the kids looked so sad yesterday. Pobrecitos.
-I am so excited for Jaime and Steve! Congratulations on your new baby! I cant wait to hear what you are going to name her, and I will just relieve the both of you and say that you dont have to name her after me, I know, I know that you want to, but I just dont know if it would be a good idea. Famly reunions would get too confusing. I will just settle with my names as her middle name. (One name I have heard here that I do like is Aleida)
-We are here in Pedregal (where 1/2 of our zone is) and it's about an hour and a half away, and I believe we are going to play fùtbol today. We still don't have pictures in our area, but with how the internet is, I dont think you'll be getting pictures for awhile. Its not too bad here, but straight up awful in Corire.
Annddd.... well. Thats about all that I can think of. We are teaching a man names Renzo. He can do anything. He knows Japanese. Hes getting baptized next week , and then Zoila and her 12 year old son Gustavo are scheduled for the next. Pray for them, will you?
I still am having a blast with Hna Robinson. She is so awesome. I feel like my spanish and my teaching ability are growing like crazy and I love it. She's the best. Hopefully we get a picture to you soon!
Okay, keep the faith, keep on pushing on, I love you all so much! Can you believe that I'm almost halfway done?!?! AHHHH!
Hey family!! I am writing this email in the mission home, because today is when all the Zone Leaders and Sister Leaders come for Leadership training today and so we get the awesome chance to come back to Arequipa. I am so grateful, because this week has been TOUGH, and the idea of coming back to AQP really got me to today.
So, like I said, its really hot where I am, in Corire. The people all say that we get used to the heat, but I'm sure coming back here to the city wont help us adjust any faster. They also say that the mosquitoes stop biting you after awhile too. Did I ever tell you about my first day here? I got bit by mosquitoes in the mission home, and found out I was allergic to them, but I didn't want to tell you because I didn't want mom to think I was going to die, but anyways, I cant remember if I have told you or not, but anyways, I'm kind of allergic to these bugs. I don't hyperventilate or anything, they just swell up a lot, and itch a lot. So that's been fun.
Our little branch needs so much help. All the Priesthood holders are like 65+ years, and even though they are all great, we need some young people. And there are some crazy things that they teach that need some.... correcting. And even though it was overwhelming at first, we know that if we take everything one step at a time, we will help them.
Our valley is so beautiful. Its all agriculture. There are 7 rivers that empty into this valley, which means there are fields and fields and fields of rice. So much rice!!!! Sometimes we just go out with people and work in their fields with them, and its awesome. There have been Elders in this valley for years, so everyone knows about them, but there never ever have had sisters here, so we are kind of a curious group of girls to everyone here. Its cool, we get a lot of people to talk to us just from the pointing and stares.
They have a real piano in the church building!! Its kind of out of tune, because no one has played it in years, so that's kind of a neat addition that we can bring. I finally got my valentines day package and it was SO GREAT! It was perfect, in every single way. It couldn't have come at a better time.
Okay, there are other people waiting to use the computer for their families, so I need to go. I will finish by saying: I LOVE MY COMPANION. Hermana Robinson is the absolute best. She is such a powerful missionary, and I learn so much from her every single day. We are becoming really good friends, and our teaching gets better and more in sync every lesson. I love her so much, and I hope that we get to be together for a long time.
I cant believe that I hit my halfway mark in about 2 weeks. Ahhh!!
Okay, I love you all, I am alive, and healthy. Sorry to my sisters, that I don't have time again to email them. I love them you all so much!!!