So, the work's going here. It hasn't exactly been fruitful recently with baptisms, so we've been upping the work we've been doing with less active members. Like, "upping" a lot. As a mission, actually. We have an investigator named Edgar who we're hoping will get baptized in a few weeks, and he pretty much fell out of the sky as a miracle from God. He's progressing extremely well, although there's still a long way to go.
This week's been one of the most intense weeks of my mission so far, I think. Talking with drunk people is pretty normal here, as we encounter a lot of "borrachos" in the street that want to talk with us, but arriving at a house because we felt prompted to plan to visit a less active family and finding them fighting about the father's alcohol problem is never an easy situation. But, when we get involved, we do so with power and authority. There are many things that we can't do as missionaries, but helping families is the point, so we do what we can. We started working with them much more closely, and it was extremely gratifying when they came to church with us on Sunday. It wasn't without help, but still...
Actually, funny story... We talked with them on Saturday very seriously, and helped them to understand they if they wanted a change, they needed to fight for it. That fight needs to include God, and so to come together as a family, the way to do it was through the church. We committed them to attend with us on Sunday, and ask them if they want us to call them in the morning to wake them up. "Oh, no, elder, we'll be ready." So we told them we'd pass by for them in the morning so we could all walk down together. It's all good, everybody's happy. Fast forward to Sunday morning: We pass by, knock on the gate, and no one answers. We call the house and hear the phone ringing. Rinse, repeat. So we enter in the gate and knock on the window (kind of hard to explain how the house is structured, but it sounds weirder than it was. It makes sense when you see the house). A few times. The dad then sticks his head out, and it's obvious he was dead asleep moments earlier, along with his entire family. "Oh," he says sleepily, and a little sheepishly, "I don't think we're going to make it." "Don't worry," I tell him, "We'll make it together." And I smile. Not a cruel smile, a smile with power and authority. To let him know that we mean business. And that we weren't leaving that house without them. He looks at me for a sec, and then says, "Ok," and sticks his head back inside. Within fifteen minutes, we're all walking to the chapel together, and we actually meet along the way another less active family that we've been teaching. We haven't been baptizing much, but that really doesn't matter. My heart was light that morning. But it gets better... at least, it made me laugh a little inside. The family decided to attend the class for new members (it's been a LONG time since they've been to church), and while they were there, the bishop told them how happy he was to see them. The lesson was actually on work and personal responsibility, and as an example, he said, "And you, Brother E, I remember passing by a couple of days ago to invite you to the ward conference, and here you are! It gives me a lot of pleasure to see you all here. And you came of your own free will, which is exactly what we're talking about today."
"Actually, bishop, the elders have been working with us pretty closely, and have fortunately been rather insistent with us--if not for them, we wouldn't be here."
"That's great that the elders have been working with you all, but it's not like they brought you here at gunpoint! If, when they passed by, you'd have yawned [here he mimed for comic effect] and said you couldn't, you were too sleepy, they'd have turned around and kept on going! But you wanted to come, and so you did."
I understand the point the bishop was trying to make, and he's right in the sense that if the family really didn't want to come, they wouldn't have come. But, the fact that he said almost exactly the same words that left Brother E's mouth made me have to hide a smile. At times, we need to be a little more insistent than the bishop thinks. Always within the bounds of reason. But, the family understood that they needed to push, so we gave it to them. And, after forming that habit, they'll be able to keep on progressing, seeing the help and blessings in their life. We've been through some extremely difficult moments with them recently... I'm not going to go into too many details, but we've seen part of the father's problem up close and personal, and with their extended family that lives in the same housing complex it gets even more complicated (illegal drug abuse), so we have our hands full. But, with the Lord's help, we can help His children here, and be His voice and His hands.
One night, after meeting with them, my companion was feeling a little depressed, so I talked with him a little bit about our calling. It's a literal one. It's not something we've "taken upon ourselves," it's not something we're doing because we wanted to and no one else; the Lord has permitted us to be here because it was expedient in him for the salvation of souls. We've been set apart by His servants who directly have His authority, to do this work in this area. No one else in this area has that authority. If I sugarcoated that, if I said something different, I'd be lying. Right now, Elder Weatherford and Elder González are the Lord's representatives as the missionaries assigned to the area called 5 de Mayo. No one else can do this work. So, we've got to. Yeah, we're young. Yeah, maybe we've never encountered this kind of situation before. But, we have the right to revelation for this area, to receive revelation to be able to help the people we teach, and we need to trust that.
This church is true, and the priesthood is real. Jesus Christ is the head of this church, and the head of this work. He watches over His servants, and over their families. An elder who's going home tomorrow (honorably--finished his "dos añitos") shared something with us in a special meeting yesterday. He said that the wife of the previous mission president said something a couple of Christmases ago. She said, "Maybe a few of you feel like there's an empty space in your family right now, a hole where you used to be, especially right now during the holiday season. That's not true. There's no hole. Jesus Christ is there, taking your spot, because right now you're here, taking His." I'm not there right now with my family, but I trust that they're in good hands, and that I'm where I need to be. Two years are a paltry offering when compared with all that He's given me, and still has in store.
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
Saludos, y todo mi amor,
Élder Rob Weatherford