I've been really bad at emailing the last couple of weeks because our P-days have been super busy, so hopefully I can make up for that today! I'm also going to try a new format to be a little bit more concise and remember more things that happened! Here's the new format:
1. Spiritual Thought
2. How I'm Doing
3. How the People I'm Teaching Are Doing
4. What I'm Learning
5. Funny Stories
So, without further ado:
This month we're doing a "Light the Mission" which is kind of a lead-up to the "Light the World" campaign that the Church does every Christmas. The purpose is to share what miracles we've seen during our mission to help build faith and see the ways that we're being helped as we go about our day. We did a conference call last week and everyone talked about the miracles they've seen. It was really cool to hear miracles that other people experienced in the mission as well as to be able to reflect on the ones that I'd seen personally.
This week we've had many little miracles that we've caught and probably many more that slipped by us, but I've been trying to be better at writing them down so I can remember them. As we get into the Thanksgiving season, I'd just like to invite everyone to start to do the same. At the end of the day, just writing down the miracles that happened has really helped me see more easily the pattern of the blessings I've received as consequence of our efforts. It gives a lot of great things to be thankful for, which is what November's all about!
2 Nephi 27:23:
23 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.
How I'm doing:
I'm still doing great! It's been getting really cold out, so I'm starting to miss Utah's lack of humidity.
People have also been really worried about my eating habits since my email about the pretzels. I would like to clarify that I have not been subsisting solely on pretzels for the last month, and have been eating a lot of different fruits and veggies and chicken. I am not sponsored by any pretzel company.
I will definitely accept any recipes that people want to send, especially if they're quick and easy because I'm trying to be more creative with a 30 minute lunch break and an hour long dinner break.
What I'm learning:
I've learned a lot in the last 3 weeks!
One thing that's been very cool to see is the difference in peoples lives once they start keeping commitments and they start actually reading and praying. We've had several different people we're teaching and less-active members who were really cold, and anxious, and hesitant to make appointments with us or spent most of the appointment talking about the bad things in their life suddenly do a 180 after they start reading daily and praying about it. We had one particularly crabby older gentleman who was a member who was bitter that it seemed people had forgotten him and was going through some really rough personal issues. We finally got him to commit to read daily for a week (after almost a month of meeting with him weekly), and he really lit up! He was jovial and giving us food and came to a ward party!
Another thing I've learned is about the value of personal revelation. Elder Sansom is a really knowledgeable guy when it comes to doctrinal topics (and a lot of other topics), so I tend to ask a lot of questions. A lot of times, with more important matters, he'll have me just pray about it myself, which I initially thought was mostly just a way to differ questions. However, after receiving a lot of answers that specifically address everything I wanted to know with the question. I'm starting to just go directly to prayer.
I'm also learning a lot of practical things in terms of when to talk to people. I'm becoming a lot more proficient at understanding the different beliefs of other religions in our are, as well as learning about and connecting with the diverse cultures of the people here. What cities in Ecuador like Qui, which ones think it's disgusting; the different areas of Mexico and cities and their foods, etc. We just had a "Noche de Hispanidad" which was a super fun ward party where all the different countries brought food and performed traditional songs or dances. I'm learning the different "mottos" of the countries and their flags. It's a good time!
I'm also learning a lot of programming stuff!
How the people I'm teaching are doing:
Mayra: Something happened in her family, and she's taking a trip back to the Dominican Republic for a month! That was kind of a bummer because she came to church for the third time and has been super strong at keeping commitments. She called us when she got to the airport and she wants to go to church there in the DR while she's gone. Depending on where she ends up, I might end up sending my own brother a referral!
Wander: Juked us on one appointment. We haven't been able to contact him since, but we've also been pretty bad about trying to stop by and see him. We're going to try to stop by one more time.
Marlon and Eliana: The two amazingly prepared Colombians who we were teaching! We talked to Eliana once last week, but I couldn't understand what she was saying through the phone and Elder Sansom was gone on exchange so we don't know what she said. We haven't been able to contact her, but we had a lesson with Marlon solo and he said she's good, but her toddler might have broken her phone. He's working more now which is hard, but also good because he was initially going to just stay for a month in the States, but he's working because he wants to stay longer!
We've picked up another couple part-member families and got an amazing text out of the blue from someone the missionaries before us were teaching but who we lost contact with asking if we could come back and teach her family!
We were standing on this guy named Jamaal's porch, talking to him for a bit when this girl slipped out of his house and down the stairs past us. He seemed confused for a sec but we kept talking for about 5 minutes. He slowly became more and more distracted throughout the conversation and we asked him if everything was alright. He went inside and got his phone and told us something was going on with his girlfriend, and that he'd be back in a second and walked down the stairs and walked down the block to the end of the street looking around and then started coming back slowly and sending a lot of texts. We came down the stairs and asked if everything was okay and whether we could help him. He said now was not a great time and asked if we could come back another time. We realized that after his girlfriend slipped by us, she walked down the street to where his car was parked and stole it. Normally, people's excuses for not wanting to talk are pretty weak, but I've got to give it to Jamaal that having your car stolen by your girlfriend is a pretty good one. That's the first time I've had someone's car stolen while on a door approach. About an hour later we were walking back by, and Jamaal was there arguing with his girlfriend and trying to get his keys back. So I guess at least he got her to come back. Prayers for my guy Jamaal.
We were driving down the street with the other Passaic missionaries on our way to get groceries when Elder Sansom said,"I love Jersey in the morning. That guy is literally walking his microwave." He pointed out a man who was casually walking down the street, dragging a microwave along behind him by the end of it's power cord. I hope his microwave is healthy.
A couple of weeks ago, I was on exchange when we got a flat tire at like 8:00 on our way back to grab my stuff to switch back. We were out there struggling for a while because the car kept rolling and the jack kept tilting, and it was freezing cold. I was hoping for some good Samaritan to come along, when a man walked up. He looked at the car, then at us, then said, "Well dat blows. It's too cowld tah git a flat." Then he took a drag from his blunt and walked away without looking back. I love New Jersey.
I'm even more behind on individual email responses, so I apologize for that! I hope that in the next couple weeks with our normal Pdays I'll be able to reply more one-on-one!
Elder Kai Reyes