Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2016-03-26 No, I don't want to send without a title, thanks for asking

(Note from Kathy:  apparently, even in Spanish, the email program asks you if you really want to send the email without a subject line.  He didn't...)

One more week left in the offices, ending with General Conference (Yeah! Projector party!), and then off to my new area...

Good week; we met a lot of interesting people, found a few new investigators, and generally avoided the area near the ocean because it's vacations right now for Semana Santa and it can get pretty crowded. Given that the offices are just a few blocks away from the beach, that means right now there's a constant undercurrent/thrum of shouts and music coming from down that way. Along with some huge tour buses parked right in front...

As a mission we've been reading the Book of Mormon again, doing a few exercises to emphasize the ways it teaches the doctrine of Christ and to help us become better at teaching with the scriptures. As I do that in my morning study, this week I also started to supplement that with studying Lesson 3 in Preach My Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I've been paying special attention to the Atonement, and especially the teachings of the Atonement in the Book of Mormon. I started thinking that I would be able to do one or two principles a day from Lesson 3, but I spent three days, I think, just on the first principle, that "through Christ we can be cleansed from sin." I could have gone on for years, I think, but after three days I felt like that was what I needed, was enough, for now at least, and that I should move on. I was reading, and pondering, and studying all the chapters I could that explain and talk about the Atonement. Really amazing study time! I got a lot of insights I hope will help some people we're teaching, and I feel like they'll help me as well!

The Book of Mormon is the word of God, is holy scripture, is an important key to many important doctrines that God needs us to know and understand so we know exactly why we're here. And, they're taught with such plainness and clarity that it's not hard to see why we need it for the latter days. So, read it!


Élder Rob Weatherford

2016-03-19 Pictures!!

Elder Hackleman and I went to a place called Cempoala, a small town near an area called Cardel, about an hour or so out from the main part of Veracruz. There are some old pyramids there (it's pretty funny,  you just walk through some dusty streets with houses and then you turn a corner and there are the pyramids, with just a small fence blocking them off from the "residential area." 

Of course, we had some fun with sacrificial and stoning photos, and some selfies. And selfies of selfies. In one of the photos, you can see a model of the pyramids, of the ancient site, in a glass case.

And, of course, we just had to stop by the famous crocodile farm on the way back... We didn't take the expensive in-depth tour, we didn't have a whole lot of time (and, let's be real, we didn't have a whole lot of money, either), so we just saw some of the hatching and raising areas. But it was pretty fun! Nobody got bitten, that's the important thing... But I did buy a gift for Dad in the store, there. He can start guessing what it is... hehe...

Oh, in case there was any doubt, the crocodile farm was exactly what it sounds like... they raise crocodiles there to sell. They use the skin, the meat, pretty much everything, and they do their best to be humane about it, from what I saw. Plus, they're crocodiles, so of course it's cool. The biggest one we saw was about three and a half meters long. His name's Chavo.

Windy, sandy Veracruz.

The Willinghams took us out to eat today to celebrate my leaving (wait, that sounded bad... But jokes aside, thanks, Willinghams!) Elder Rocha and I didn't look too thrilled in the photo because it was candid, but it was honestly a really cool place and I loved it. I just didn't have any other picture...
It was a Brazilian grill, and they just had a salad bar and then the waiters would come around with the "swords" of meat, it was like a mobile buffet, you would choose what you wanted and they would cut it off right there for you. 

Elder Andrus knew the photo was being taken, so he looks happier :)

2016-3-19 Andrus, Rocha, and Me (Oh my!)

I was going to put "and I," but I thought the other one sounded better in context... hehe

My replacement arrived on Tuesday (my "office child," as Elder Smith would say), and so we've been working like crazy to get him trained and ready for when I leave. It's not even like my job is that hard to learn, it's mostly just repetition that makes perfect. And, of course, learning how to do all of the small little things that result in the big things working out, if that makes sense.

It's been a long time since I've written much, so I'll try to let more of my reflections spill out today. Caution: Garrulous and long-winded message to follow...

I've also been thinking about how much I've learned and the skills I've acquired here... more personal responsibility, more problem-solving skills, more self-reliance (which, by the way, is a big theme in this mission and in this country). President Córdova really expects us to solve our own problems, here--I guess that sounds a little harsh... he's there to help us if we really need him, but what he wants to teach us more than anything is to be able to rely on ourselves, both temporally and spiritually. And what that all really means is teaching us to rely on the Lord, using our agency and the abilities and things He gives us to choose to do what He asks of us, and to actively seek to do more (DyC 58:27-28). It's not having to rely on somebody else for our spirituality, or obedience, or personal development, or to get our work done.

Well... setting personal reflection aside for a brief moment, Elder Andrus from Nampa, Idaho is here to stay, and I'm not... for too much longer. As far as I know, I'm leaving in normal transfers on the 4th of April, right after General Conference. And they're going to tell me where the night before, most likely. We're having a lot of fun--Elder Andrus is sharp, picking things up quickly, gets along well with everybody, and even though he's definitely a "gringo" his mom's Peruvian so he speaks really good Spanish. I know I'm leaving the job and the area in good hands! 

This week has actually been super busy in the offices, what with training and all. President had me leave some (ok, a lot) of work undone so that I could do it with Elder Andrus, which meant that we had an extremely small window of time to get some very important and time-sensitive visa work done. But, we did it! Yeah! In other news, we're working hard on reactivating some less-active members here in Altamirano, and also looking for new people to teach, like always. Cesar and Lupita have been really busy lately, so we haven't been able to see too much of them, but we still pass by, and still have hopes for the family. They'll be an eternal family yet!

Yesterday we met a non-member whose mom and sister are converts of almost ten years, and we soon realized that her family members have gotten a little... overexcited... when it came to sharing the gospel with her. Now, normally excitement's a good thing, but you need to understand boundaries. And appropriate moments. And the principle of generally avoiding criticism. The point is, her mother was there in the lesson with us, and it got rather awkward a few times because of some insensitive comments. The daughter got really defensive every time her mom would talk, and closed herself off. It had the feel of a common conversation topic in the house. What bothered me is that the mother seemed to think that what she was saying would help. Or, at least she seemed self-satisfied when she was saying it. Yeah, I guess there's a difference. The point is, you can't convince somebody into the gospel of Jesus Christ. Somebody doesn't have a true, lasting, changing conversion to the gospel because someone points out some great fault in their reasoning, or in their Biblical exegesis, or with a self-satisfied voice quotes that really-obvious-one-verse-that-person-just-must-not-have-seen-when-they-were-choosing-which-religion-to-join, so that they "see the error of their ways." Give people some more credit than that. And realize, as Paul put it, "...my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in... the Spirit." That's what we need.

The Spirit converts. We can just invite them, and love them, and not judge them, and, when and if the moment's right, present the message. The Spirit will confirm the truth, and teach, and do the convincing. And, think about it... that's way more easier for us! We don't have to worry about being able to convert people, whether we be missionaries in the street or members with our families and friends. We don't have to! We can't!

We're going to keep on visiting the daughter, and the young son of the daughter... but we may have to ask the mom to sit out the next time. I hope we can manage to do it kindly, so she takes it well... But it's very important for the progress of her daughter. When someone takes a self-righteous attitude with another person, even when they're right, it can get really difficult to bend. That's always been a personal flaw of mine that I'm working on a lot here: the need for humility. And because of that, I understand just how hard it would be for this woman to decide to get baptized, even if she grew to know it was the right thing to do, if her family keeps on like that. It would require incredible humility, because honestly (sadly) it feels like some members of her family would take the opportunity to "rub it in her face," like an "I told you so," that she ended up getting baptized, if that's what she decides. It's just sad that people would be like that. What does this teach us? That the gospel is true, the Church is an inspired and divinely-guided organization, and that the members of the Church, the Latter-day Saints, are people just like everyone else. I hope this isn't a shock to anybody. What we do with what we learn is up to us. Which ties us back into the topic of self-reliance! 

Anyway, all's well in Veracruz, at least well-covered in sand because it's been super windy right now. And we're all super sticky because of sweat, and then we get super gritty because of the sand and the wind and the sweat. But, life goes on, and Jesus still hasn't said the work is done, so it's not done. Onward and upward.


Élder Rob Weatherford

2016-2-27 Bautismo de Lupita

Lupita got baptized on Sunday! Just her, but we hope Gaby and César will be ready soon. Still in the offices, still doing well, not with a whole lot of time to write right now, hoping everyone's well at home...

Sorry, today... not really sure what to write.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." At times it really feels dark, hard to see where I'm going, hard to understand... but the Spirit cuts through the darkness. It helps us to augment our faith and trust in the Lord, and helps us recognize that what we're doing is right, and will have positive eternal repercussions. Afterwards, after all this, we'll be able to look back from the other side of the glass and know that everything was worth it. We'll be able to see, face to face, not just eternal truths, not just the fruits of our efforts here, but also our Father in Heaven, and our Savior, and see Them as They are, and feel their approval and love more strongly than we can here.

They live, and They love us. They're rooting for us, and They're with us at every step of the way. They don't give up on us, and They hope we don't give up on us, either.


Élder Weatherford