Interesting week this week!
This is going to be a quick update because we actually have 3 appointments during our preparation day time. Update: just kidding, they juked.
People that we're teaching:
Ana and Giancarlo (her son):
We came for our appointment and they weren't home. So, we decided to stop by a member family who lives across the street. That turned out to be great because we haven't been able to get an appointment with that family in a while and they were both home. We taught a 20 minute lesson and then went back to Ana's house. She had gotten back, and even though Giancarlo was sleeping. It actually worked out really well because we were able to talk about her concerns more openly without her son there.
Kike (pronounced Kee-kay):
Really wants to turn his life around. Sent us a text asking for help, but keeps kicking our appointment down the road. I think it's because he feels a little bit embarrassed by the things he's going through. He's a super sweet guy, and isn't much older than I am. He genuinely wants to be happier, but just needs a bit of help. We've got an appointment set for 5 today, so I'll get an update on that. Please keep praying for him.
Update: He moved to 8pm then rescheduled to tomorrow. Again. If he thinks he's going to get rid of us by just rescheduling over and over then he's going to have to keep doing it for a while.
We were honestly planning on dropping him, because he seems to be progressing very very slowly. However, our last appointment with him was pretty good. At the beginning, there was a little bit of disagreement about the Plan of Salvation. Felipe said he doesn't believe that anyone can become perfect like God or Christ. There are actually some great scriptures that speak fairly explicitly about that in the Bible, so we took him through them and he was pretty accepting of it. He says he knows he needs to be baptized, but we can't get him to church because he works on Sundays. We committed him to try to get the two hours on Sunday morning off and come to church, but he didn't come. We're not exactly sure how to help him, but we're going to teach him about the commandments next so that he at least has a straightforward understanding that he's breaking one.
Dilena and her son (whose name we thought was Christian but it's actually Gelson?):
Weren't able to meet with them this week.
He had some questions on baptism, so we did a quick lesson with him focused on that.
Taught Jason about baptism.
Got a call from some missionaries in Inglewood telling us that they'd volunteered us to move a member who was coming into our area. Turns out they're not actually in our area, nor in the English ward, but they were super nice so we had fun getting a refrigerator into the third floor of a storage unit complex.
Got juked by a guy, so we knocked next door on the door of a former named Charlie. I've heard he's super cool, but he hasn't responded at all and didn't answer the door.
Kike moved his appointment and our member appointment moved, so we went by Felipe because Kike lives in the same house. We taught Felipe a pretty good lesson on his porch. It was kind of funny, because as we were teaching him a lesson, a large group of Jehovah's Witnesses slowly walked by canvasing the area that we were in. They saw us teaching Felipe on the porch and skipped the house.
Super fun day! The member who usually teaches English Class and his son were out of town, and asked if we could cover the class. However, we also had an appointment with an inactive member who we've been working with. In order to balance them both, we ended up going on splits. I went with the new senior couple in our area, Elder and Sister Harbertson, to English Class. Elder Rasband went with President Hess to go teach the member (it was his turn as I taught the last lesson on exchanges). It was really fun! I led English class and we practiced conversation and pronunciation. Elder Rasband had a lot of fun taking President Hess to teach. President speaks French, but is learning Spanish, so he was bearing his testimony and sharing some scriptures. We took a group picture at the end of the night (photo cred to our neighbor's dad).
During his brief exchange with Elder Rasband, President Hess talked about the fact that he'd like us to be doing more work with Facebook to find people for the whole mission. So, on Friday we just sat down and started trying to find people who were interested on Facebook for most of the day. We've got a better grip on things now: we usually knock doors for a while and then take a break to answer Facebook messages.
We had a couple of appointments juke, but were able to teach Ana and Giancarlo as well as the member family that we had wanted to pass by. I was feeling pretty good, because after Ana didn't answer the first time, I felt impressed to go by that member family even though it was a weird time of the day. I'm glad I've got a companion who backs me up when I feel like I'm getting revelation, because we were going to leave when I was like "Should we stop by X family?" He said if I was feeling it that we should do it even though he was hesitant. I had had a few promptings earlier in the week that seemed to not turn out, so I was honestly starting to get discouraged. They commented after the lesson that we came at a "super lucky time" because they're rarely ever home at the same time before late as they both work two jobs. Then we got the bonus afterwards of being able to teach Ana because we went back. Trust promptings even if they seem not to turn out. It's for a reason.
Some of the things that the mission office used weren't working. The APs called me to see if I could fix it. I ended up going into the code and managing to get things in order.
We did some good knocking and some more Facebook contacting.
We had a lesson with this lady named Yenni. She was pretty hesitant to let us in. She talked about how she loved the Bible and already reads it. I asked her if she was cool if we came and read the Bible with her. She agreed. We found out that the previous missionaries apparently made it sound like we don't believe in the Bible. I clarified that we very much do believe in the Bible, and we backed it up by teaching the lesson from the Bible. She was pretty recepetive. It ended up being like a 2 hour lesson (not recommended), because first question I asked her was "Who is God to you?" and she told us a 35-40 minute long summary of her life story centered around different spiritual moments in her life. Not sure if she's got enough interest to have us back, but it was definitely good to clear up her confusion and we taught a lot of principles.
We met a really cool Jamaican guy named Winston. We talked to him for a bit and he said he'd take a Book of Mormon. He said that the reason that Usain Bolt is so fast is because he had a diet of good old Jamaican yellow yams. We felt bad because at the end we wanted a picture with him because he was so cool, but after we took the picture he assured us that he was an American citizen. We felt horrible that he thought we were immigration or something trying to take picture for records or something, and reassured him that we were missionaries.
We had a man who's not a member give a talk in Sacrament meeting. The husband of the Relief Society President isn't a member, but was asked anyway to speak. We were pretty interested to see how it was going to go because he comes to church almost every week, but we haven't been able to go over there and teach them and missionaries haven't really had a lot of success teaching him in the past. Also because he had trained to be a Catholic Priest, and this was the first talk he was going to give in our church. It was really good! His family brought 3 different non-member friends to come see and they really enjoyed themselves.
He had a 10 second moment of silence at the beginning of his talk for Memorial Day in remembrance of all of those who gave their lives for our freedom. He then gave a talk on how to better show our love for Jesus Christ, citing the story of Jesus and Lazarus and expounding on it. He tied it back into Memorial Day at the end. He talked about reading the Book of Mormon and the Bible. At the very end of it he just said "Que Dios les bendiga!" (God bless you all!) and walked off to his seat. It was pretty fun.
That night we were supposed to have a bunch of different member appointments for our 2 hour power. However, pretty much all of them canceled or juked last minute so we just did a bunch of member stop-bys. At the last one, I felt like we should go to a certain member and we stopped by. A man answered the door and said she didn't live there. We were walking back to the car when I saw a man on the porch of a nearby house. I did a double take and then ran over to the house and up the porch steps while Elder Rasband internally questioned my sanity for a moment. I asked his name and he said it was Charlie. It was the Charlie from before that hadn't answered his door!
We had a great conversation with him and his friend Vicente. Vicente is an older gentleman who knew a lot of Biblical verses, and then revealed that he doesn't know how to read. Charlie had a bunch of questions about the fact that we have a living prophet, which was explained by previous missionaries. Vicente stopped me talking about it by putting his hand on my knee and looking me in the eyes very seriously (which he did several times throughout the course of the conversation in regard to various topics). He said "I don't believe in prophets. Only in Jesus Christ. He is light and life, and there is none other than Him." I tried to explain that there are tons of prophets in the Bible. The Bible was written by prophets. As I explained, he placed his hand on my knee again and looked me in the eyes very seriously again, and explained again that he didn't believe in any prophets. One of my favorite exchanges of the conversation followed:
I asked him if he knew who Moses was. He said he did. I told him that was awesome! I asked him who Moses was to him. He gave me a blank stare for a long moment.
The conversation went great. Elder Rasband powerfully explained authority and the need for it. Frequently, Vicente would put his hand on my knee to stop the conversation and ask us a question that he had. For example, "I'm going to ask you a question I have, and I want you to listen to it, and then answer it: We need to be baptized in order to receive salvation from sin. Yes or no?"
We would answer: "Yes, we believe that baptism is an important step in the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Then he would give us a short round of applause of agreement before again grabbing my knee for another clarification question:
"Are you Jehovah's Witnesses?'
"Oh, good, I thought this whole time that you were Jehovah's Witnesses," etc.
By the end, Elder Rasband was talking to Charlie, and I was talking to Vicente. They were both very impressed. Vicente wanted to know where are church was. He asked if we baptize again, and I told him that we do and let him know that if he would like to be baptized, we were happy to help him get there. He said that he felt that one has to prepare first, and I told him that our job as missionaries was to help people do just that. He said that his father had died in the Gospel and that he hoped to be able to accept it himself. Meanwhile, Charlie was so impressed while talking to Elder Rasband that he invited us over again to "talk for 3 or 4 hours and eat pupusas."
Anyway, that's a summary of our week! We're excited for the coming week and working hard. I've been learning a lot this transfer that a lot of times, promptings only come when they really need to and we're left do to our best for the rest of the time. We always pray for guidance, of course. However as I've been more confident in myself, in doing what I think is right and following promptings when I get them (instead of trying to wait for a prompting for everything), I've seen more miracles.
In essence, the Spirit is less like a GPS--which tells you directly step-by-step what turn to take or when to keep going straight to get to where you want to go--and more like road signs--which you have to look for while you're driving, leave it up to you to follow them, and are usually only found where they're needed or where there's potential danger ahead. When we see them, it's obviously very important that we follow their directions exactly to get where you want to go and avoid problems.
If you're worried that you're not getting promptings when you're doing everything you're supposed to to get them, it may be that God trusts you to handle this part of the drive by yourself based on the knowledge you've already been given. Like Elder Bednar said: "Quit worrying about it!" Just "be a good boy or a good girl" and do the things you need to in order to be able to vigilantly watch for direction that comes. Then, have the faith that He'll give you that direction you need to get where you want to go.
That's my spiritual thought for this week. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I love you all! Talk to you next week!
Elder Kai Reyes