Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shaking hands with a church leader

Hola Familia!
This week was crazy; the awesome kind of crazy!  We were told in the beginning of the week by our Zone Leaders that this coming week would be rough but that we would finish out with some great success.  This has definitely been the case this entire week.  First of all, E.Chamberlain (our Senior Companion) was stuck to the house for the week and me and E. Arnell took turns proselyting with E. Morris.  I enjoyed the times at home because they provided wonderful study opportunities in which I learned tons.  I specifically focused most of the study on the lessons in Preach My Gospel.  Slowly I am beginning to feel much more confident in being able to teach these lessons simply and in another language.

At the start of this week, my companionship had roughly 20 investigators, some more promising than others but a lot of them had potential.  We had 8 couples/families we were teaching that needed to be married before they could be baptized.  That is actually a huge problem in my mission with the Latinos.  One family, we are teaching and helping get married, has been together for 11 years and have 6 children.  Sad huh....but we are taking them down to the marriage office this week and will hopefully have a wedding for them this coming weekend!  As an added plus, 99% of the families married will eventually be baptized also.  At the start of this week we had these 8 couples and now only have 2 that are really sticking it through.  A couple families fell away due to unfinished divorces and one decided that their Catholic tradition was what they wanted.  We also had many people fall off date for baptism because they got drunk and their hangovers prevented them from coming to church.  After losing quite a bit of our investigators, the Lord blessed us with many new investigators that are even more ready to be taught the gospel!  We did lose a lot of people due to un-before-seen circumstances but now we have the ability to really focus in on some very good families.
This weekend we have a baptism planned for two children 10 and 8.  They are the oldest in the family we are helping to get married whose parents have been together for 11 years and have 6 kids.  They came to church this last Sunday and loved it.  Having already made friends, we have high hopes that they will help their parents start coming to church also.  The mom is a really inactive member that we hope to reactivate as we baptize the father this next weekend.  They are a great family and I have really enjoyed teaching them.  Another recent discovery was a sweet kid named Franklee who just moved to the Salt Lake Valley from Guatemala about a year ago.  We talked to him and his mom and they seem so prepared and very humble.  With many other potentials, we have tons to do and the Lord really is looking out for us.
I had a really cool opportunity for service this last week.  We received a referral for a lady in a huge apartment complex in our area. (by the way: about half of our investigators come from this apartment complex called the Seasons).  We met her once and set up an appointment to meet with her on a later day because she was on her way to therapy.  It turns out that she had polio as a child which really messed up her foot leading to painful limping walk.  With plans to meet her later we went on our way.  However, a couple days later we came across her in the apartment complex with a huge stack of flyers.  She had been hired by the Seasons to put the flyers on all the doors in the complex.  This meant that she not only had to painfully walk around the complex but had to climb stairs up to the third story.  After talking to her and finding out that this is what she was doing, I quickly offered her our help to which she gratefully accepted.  It had taken her over 4 hours to do about a third of the apartments in the complex and was only getting paid for 4 and a half hours of work.  So with 30 minutes left to finish, she didn't really know what to do.  However, E. Morris and I helped her do the last 2/3 of the complex in just over 30 minutes.  When we finished, she was so relieved and thanked us profusely.  She also promised Dominican Republic juice at our next appointment at her house.  Feeling pleased with this wonderful opportunity to serve, we left with a good feeling that Angelica (the lady with polio) would now be that much better of an investigator.
Today, has been one of the coolest P-Days I have had in the mission.  First of all, when we got to the Salt Lake Temple to do endowments this morning, there were security guards standing just behind the recommend desk.  We soon found that they were there because this Wednesday morning was the time that the 12 Apostles and the First Presidency go to the temple.  As we walked to the room just behind the recommend desk we saw Elder  L. Tom Perry and President Uchtdorf walk up the stairs.  L. Tom Perry didn't really see us standing their but man is he tall!  He was taller than most but would have been way taller but seems to be a little hunched over.  President Uchtdorf however saw us, waved, gave us a thumbs up, and then came over to shake our hands.  I got to look President Uchtdorf in the eyes, shake his hand, and say the first thing that came to my mind, "Good Morning."  WOW...amazing!  I will always remember his huge smile and warm greeting even to me, a complete stranger.  Then we had, as always, a great session in the temple! 
After the temple, a Service Missionary named Elder Burbidge drove us in his 1956 Chrysler Imperial to a Costco and bought my companionship what ever we wanted.  This is the same service missionary who brings our companionship over Marie Calendar Pies or Milkshakes every so often.  After doing something like this for us he would ask, "who's your best friend?"  Ha ha, he and his wife teach English to a lot of our investigators.  Sister Burbidge always tells us, "I am so lucky to see you missionaries work so hard in the field because I'm sure your mothers would do anything to be here right now!"  So basically, Elder and Sister Burbidge have put it upon themselves to be my companionship's "parents" while in this area.  Not only that but the Sporls (the Brazilian family who have us over every Sunday and who also helped my companions pull that prank on me) have also declared  themselves our parents and bring us food all the time.  There are tons of some very generous people looking out for us!
I decided to share my best experience this week for last!  Jesus Hernandez, who was baptized last week, was set to be confirmed this last Sunday.  Because of conference weekend, we had to wait more than a week before he could be confirmed.  All throughout this week we went by Jesus' house to check up on him and to also teach him about the Holy Ghost.  Things were going great until Sunday morning.  We went by his house on the way to church and no one was home.  We knocked and knocked and even tapped on some windows spending about 10 minutes waiting.  Unsure what to do and very worried, E. Chamberlain and I walked toward the church.  E. Chamberlain then suggested that we say a prayer and put our trust in the Lord.  He then gave me the opportunity to say the prayer.  After praying we resumed our walk toward the chapel.  About 10 seconds into our walk, I felt that we needed to return to Jesus' house.  I voiced this to E. Chamberlain who then lead us back to the house.  Upon returning, we found Jesus sitting on his porch as if almost waiting for us.  He was asleep and had not heard any of our knocking, but had just decided to come sit outside.  The hand of the Lord was undeniably in the work Sunday morning and blessed Jesus and us with the confirmation.  I will remember this event for the rest of the mission; this really is the Lord's work and His hand is always in any and all success.
This has been an amazing week and one that will be long remembered.  I was so lucky to have this usually long time slot today to write emails so I could tell you all about it!  I love you all tons and hope that you have a great week.  I appreciate all the prayers!
Elder Janis

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