I'm still in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, in the Moctezuma ward. Elder Tirado, however, has "gone the way of all the earth," or rather, the way of all the missionaries, and is currently residing in another area. And I'm with a gringo again! Elder Lind, from Burley, Idaho, is my companion, and he has just one transfer less than I do. He's actually from the same generation as my other gringo companion, Elder Dawson. This transfer should be fun! I'm excited!
This week we're going to do all we can to tie up legal complications for the wedding. Prayers would be appreciated!
This past week we were still looking really hard for new people to teach, and even though we were meeting a lot of people, we weren't finding new investigators. People weren't interested, people weren't able, people were a little crazy, the usual. Also, something that happens a lot here is that the parents get their kids to lie for them. We knocked on a door one day when we could see an adult man sitting on a couch with his back to the window. We didn't knock on the window even though we had seen him because that would be a little weird, so we pretended that we hadn't seen him and knocked on the door. But when we knocked, I saw him stiffen. He did that "I'm-going-to-move-real-slowly-so-the-motion-won't-catch-their-eye" thing and slid off the couch. Keep in mind the window is really near the door. I roll my eyes at my companion and knock again, giving him the benefit of the doubt. Nothing. Jeffrey R. Holland tells us, knock three times. I knock again. The window slides open a tiny bit and a kid, maybe six years old, says, "My dad's not here!" Again, I give "the look" at my companion. "Are you sure?" I ask him. "Uh-huh!" he says. And then, inside, we hear another voice, maybe three, four years old, "Dad, dad!! They want to talk to you! Dad!" Ah. The innocence of childhood. I had the desire the desire to do what another elder told me he had done once in that kind of situation: tell the kid, "Tell your dad that lying's a sin!" But in that situation, he told me, the kid said, "Ok!" and ran back inside. And the elders left hurriedly.
Another time, we knock on a gate that has a view of the house to the left, a shed directly in front of us, and a car in front of the shed. There were also clothes hanging in between the car and the shed. We could see a man standing in front of the shed, partly hidden behind the clothes, but clearly in view. When we knocked on the gate, a girl came out of the house and asked us what we wanted. We asked her if her parents were home. She walks through the clothes to talk to her dad, and we clearly hear, "Diles que nadie está." (Tell them nobody's home.) And then, what made me lose it (I didn't burst out laughing, but I definitely snorted back a chuckle), her reply, "¡Pero papá, me da pena!" (But dad, do I have to? It's embarrassing!) The dad said something else, more quietly, and then the girl sticks her head out through the clothes, yells, "No está nadie!" and then we see her hide behind the car. Yeah. She hid behind the car.
Another one: We knock on a gate where we see a woman out back, and a man sticks his head out of a window, sees us, and yells, "Nobody's home!" Then he hesitates, rethinks the absurdity of that statement, and yells, "We're busy!" And then sticks his head back inside.
But, we keep working. There are a few promising new investigators, and we still hope to get Néstor and Georgina married. Elder Lind and I are going to echarle all the ganas (that's right, all of them) this week, and we're not going to stop. I hit ten months on Friday!
This scriptural thought might be a little stronger than usual, but it's something I was meditating earlier this week, and even though I'm not sure why, I feel like I should share it. It's probably more for those that are in the mission field right now, but it applies to us all. As a mission, our president has placed some high goals for us to reach. In this area, I was having a lot more trouble reaching them. My initial reaction was more along the lines of, "Well, for other areas it's easier, but for this area I don't know if we can reach those kinds of numbers." But, in that moment, I started thinking about a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants:
I hope I wasn't keeping it with slothfulness, but maybe my heart was a little doubtful. The attitude that we often have, "I don't know if I can do that, but I'll try," is something that weakens us from the beginning. Maybe we're not going to succeed perfectly. But we can commit ourselves, and if we do that the Lord will help us. If not, we will be damned. Our progression will be halted. There won't be growth or improvement. And when I read that scripture again, I kept on reading:
29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded,and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.
30 Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?
31 Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?
32 I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.
33 Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.
So, that's even stronger. The goals our president gives us are to help us expand our vision and help us stretch, but they're not impossible (1 Nephi 3:7). If we receive these commandments, like any commandment, with a doubtful heart, we're not going to be able to receive those blessings. For many, that's a stumblingblock: "I did this, and nothing happened." That leads to resentment, anger, frustration, and a loss of faith. Like Alma says, it's not because this wasn't the work of the Lord, a "good seed," it's because we didn't take the care necessary to really bring it to pass, or because we didn't persevere. We gave up. Don't give up. Keep working, keep stretching, whatever the commandment may be, and you'll receive the blessings the Lord has promised. Who is the Lord, that has promised and has not fulfilled? Whether it be for missionaries, or members with little time in the church, for investigators or those members with decades in the Gospel, for whatever kind of promise He makes, He always fulfills.
I hope everybody's doing well. I am, and I love you all.
Élder Rob Weatherford