What a great week we had! We have been working really hard and finding a ton of really awesome new investigators which is exactly what we needed. We really want to find families! It is hard here, because not many are married and don´t really have an interest in doing so because they get some kind of benefits if they are "single parents." Not sure... but we know that it is much easier for full families to progress in the gospel because they have a good support system. Please pray that we can find complete families and future priesthood holders. Thanks!
Like I mentioned, we have some really great investigators!
Orlando was a referral from the Bishop and he is really doing great! Our Bishop, Bishop Chen, is an amazing young man from China who owns and runs a "China" and Orlando always came to the store to buy wine. One day, Bishop told him that he wouldn´t find happiness in the box (wine comes in boxes here... actually, lots of thinks come in boxes here... milk, juice, etc.) and Orlando asked him what he met. So, Bishop sent us off to meet him. He was a huge alcoholic and was drinking something like 5 boxes a day when he almost died and was in a clinic for about 3 weeks. He is out now and when we met him, was down to a box a day (we met him last Monday). Well, since then, he hasn´t had a single drink and says that he knows that this is the true church. He went to church yesterday with his hands and face washed, his hair combed, and a clean shirt! He cried through the whole thing and said that he knows that the Lord is saving him and has brought him the truth! So great! He accepted a baptismal date in the first lesson for the 5th of May! So great! The Atonement is REAL, and it works for EVERYONE. It truly changes us. I think that for the first time in my life I finally am starting to understand the Atonement.
Then there is Jessi. She is the cutest 9 year old girl and the second to youngest in the Enrique family. She and her family started reactivating in December and the Bishop told us that Brother Enrique is good to go worthiness wise to baptize his daughter in the 28th of April! So awesome! They have really come far and it´s so great to see the whole family together in church. Bishop Chen has this great vision of finding, rescuing, and completing (baptizing those members of the family who are not yet baptized) the less active members. It is a great program that he has called "Rescue the Flock." Man! I feel the spirit so strongly just thinking about it! We have seen miracles as we go to visit these families, invite them to come back, and invite those in the family who are not yet members to be baptized. In our ward list, there are over 800 members!!! However, only about 125 attend each week! Wow!!! And many of those missing 675 have family members who have already come to church, already tasted of the Spirit, and just need the invitation to come back into the fold. Jessi is one of those and in 2 more weeks she will happily enter the waters of baptism and be baptized by her father!!
We met the Perez family this week. The Elders had run into them the other day, but they live in our area. We went to contact them and they told us that they had been meeting with Elders in Santiago del Estero and that they were about to be baptized but unexpectedly moved about a week before the baptism! They accepted baptismal dates for the 28th as well. So great! The parents are married, so we are working on that, but the 3 daughters are golden and they told us yesterday that they have some family interested as well and they are going to invite them to a Family Home Evening that we have planned for tonight. So great!
Rodolfo is the husband of Vilma, a recent convert. He is really awesome and has a really neat testimony, but just can´t seem to quit smoking. We are really trying with him, but he really has a hard time with it. He says that he wants to be baptized, but he also wants to keep smoking. Please pray that he can experience true conversion and have the desire to change.
Something else really awesome is that this week, we found out that one of our investigators in Congreso, Monica, got baptized a couple weeks ago!!!! So fun!! She was really great, but had some major doubts. I don´t really know a lot of the story, but her member boyfriend reactivated and for that she finally got truly interested. So awesome to hear about past investigators making it to their baptisms! I am going to have to write to her...
I am getting used to the bike and the area. I´m not as nervous about the bike now, so I do okay. I still need to buy a mud guard.. there is just never time! haha. Next Monday I hope. For now, I just wear an old jacket while we are riding.
Fall is coming (still weird that the seasons are backwards here) so it is cooling off at night, which is great because it is crazy hot during the day! I hear that it gets pretty cold here come winter and that it might even FEEL colder than a few of the "nice" days in Ushuaia because it is a very wet cold with the humidity... good thing I have my big jackets.
So funny story... first, I have to explain a few things about a couple Spanish words:
el papá means dad (plural, los papás, means parents)
el Papa (unwritten, but spoken accent on the first a) means the Pope.
la papa (sounds the same as the Pope, but a feminine now... uses la...) means the potato
So we were trying to contact a referral and the kids were outside. I said:
"Están los papás?" (Are your parents home?)
The little boy of about 6 told us that he thought they were behind the house. We asked him to got get them for us. He looked super confused, but agreed. He was gone a really long time and we were getting confused. After about 5 min, he came back, struggling to drag a HUGE crate of POTATOES!!!!! hahahahahahahahah. It was Sooo funny!!! I think that I need to make sure that I really accentuate on that word... good times, good times.
So... I debated if I was going to tell you all this or not, but I figure I might as well... this area is the area really well know for LICE. Bleh! Super gross! Hermana Dunn got rid of hers about 2 weeks before I got here... so, Hermana Gulbrandsen told me that I can do one of two things to prevent it. First, spray my hair every morning with vinegar water, or second, die my hair (they don´t like the smell or the chemicals). For now, I am going with the vinegar... I really don´t want to die my hair, cuz I have never done it and don´t know if I could keep it up... just a box die, and I would try to just match my color, but still... and also I don´t really know how great of an idea it is. FOr now, the vinegar works, but I feel like I smell... Hermana Dunn says we don´t, but I´m just not sure. We will see what I decide... Opinions??? haha... oh the terrible memories of Mayonnaise in the heat of the day... The good thing is, they have great products to get rid of it fast if I do get it. We do weekly checks...
So, I received some difficult news from a dear friend today that really got me thinking about the Atonement. I will declare with all I have till the end of my days that it is REAL. Please apply it! Don´t give up. Don´t stop trying. When you feel like it is hopeless, it is not. If you feel like you can´t, you can! I have learned that the Atonement is for EVERYONE! It is for the righteous, as much as for the sinner. We read in the scriptures that the Atonement took Alma, the WORST of sinners and changed him into a Prophet. It took Nephi, a strong and firm prophet, and made him even MORE. The Atonement works. The Savior does what He says He does. If you are lost, take the steps to come back. He has not left you. If you are not lost, take the steps to stay firm and become even MORE than you are. I love you. I pray for you. Come back.
I love you all so much! Please know that I pray for you always and that I am truly grateful for the love, prayers, and sacrifices that you make so that I can be right here, right now. The Savior lives. He loves us. He paid the price so that we can return to Him and our Father in Heaven. They both want that we return to them. They want to give us all that they have. All we have to do is apply the Atonement and live the gospel. And something that I have really learned here on the mission is that living the Atonement IS applying the gospel... having faith, repenting, taking the sacrament weekly, following the spirit, and enduring to the end. May we all do it together is my prayer.
With all my love,