I still can't believe Christmas is almost here. It has been blazing hot these past few days and SO humid. Christmas is going to be pretty weird this year but I am so excited to talk to you all! I will not be emailing on Monday but I will have 40 minutes to talk to you Christmas day.
This week has been full of challenges and miracles. Hermana Castellanos and I are struggling a little to have progressing families and investigators in sacrament meeting and reach all of our goals. We are working with all of our efforts, however, to be worthy of the help of Heavenly Father. I am constantly trying to have more faith, live more obediently and work more diligently to see miracles in our area. I know that the success that we have had is directly from Him. Every new investigator and lesson is a blessing.
This week Hermana Castellanos shared a scripture with me from Alma during companionship study that I really needed. Alma 26:28-31 talks about how they are traveling all over, preaching in houses, in the streets to teach of Christ. They were rejected and cast out at times but Alma states that it is all worth it if they can save some soul. He says that the first of their labor is not small.
We too are preaching the gospel of Christ in homes, in the streets, anywhere we can find people and at times we are rejected and have afflictions (don't worry, nothing like Alma and his brethren) but it is all worth it if we can save some soul. This month we were able to baptized Diego. He is a choice spirit of Heavenly Father and I am so grateful we had the opportunity to help him make his first covenant with his Heavenly Father. At times I feel that the fruit of our labor is small right now. We have a goal of 4 baptisms this month that I felt was inspired and right now our possibilities are dwindling, but I know with faith God's will can be done. Even if Diego is the only person we baptize the fruit of our labor is not small. He is a soul that can be saved, and can help build the kingdom of God.
In my efforts to find a chosen family of our Heavenly Father I am really trying to improve my faith and worthiness and become the missionary Heavenly Father wants me to be. Today during personal study I read a scripture in 2 Nephi 33:3 which I love. Nephi is praying and crying for his people (investigators) and he says that he knows the Lord will hear his cries of faith.
I too have been praying for my investigators and worrying throughout the night like Nephi. I realized today, however, that I need to be even more focused on my investigators. I am sometimes more worried about the indicators and what my district leader will say when he hears my numbers than I am about the people. I really want to focus on loving my investigators more, loving them enough that my indicators are achieved because I am focusing on them, not on the numbers.
On Friday we had zone conference in Ramos Mejia. When we have to be there early in the morning we sleep in the apartment of the Hermanas in Lujan 1 because we have to wake up at 4:00 to be at the collectivo by 5:00 or 5:30. We sleep on the floor, which is pretty hard but this time I slept better than the last time. We really are blessed to have the energy though as missionaries. Many times we have to wake up early to be in Ramos and we never get a chance to catch up on sleep as missionaries but we continually have strength and energy.
During zone conference I was reminded again to focus on my investigators. One of my teachers in the MTC was always telling us to 1. Love the investigator and 2. Rely on the Lord. In California these things seemed easy, but I realized here I have maybe forgotten a little bit to really focus on loving my investigators and relying on the Lord. Yes the numbers are important, and yes the culture of the people here is different but I can still love them with all my heart and rely on the Lord to do his work.
I also loved the focus on families during zone conference. More than anything I want to bring the blessing of the gospel to a family. The idea of teaching eternal families in the first lesson has always made sense to me and I had always assumed I would do so as a missionary but for some reason I haven't been teaching this principal initially. This week as we have begun putting this into practice I have already begun to see results as contacts turn into lessons and potential baptismal dates.
We received a great miracle this week when we found a woman named Sylvana. She was waiting for two of her children to get out of school with her baby and we taught her the gospel. She was so excited about repentance and baptism and she couldn't stop smiling. We almost couldn't find her house when we searched for it a few days later but we were able to find her again and teach her about eternal families. She is living with her boyfriend but wants to get married. She and her three children came to church on Sunday (unfortunately her boyfriend was working) and we have plans to teach her and her boyfriend again tomorrow. I am so excited to work with this family and hopefully see them progress.
We also found another amazingly prepared woman named Justina Sunday afternoon. She has talked to missionaries in the past and told us she has read almost all of the Book of Mormon. She accepted a baptismal date and told us she will come to church on Sunday. After she said the closing prayer she began to cry and told us she has been feeling alone but that she felt love in our lesson. It was such a miracle!
While finding miracle new investigators we also had some challenges with our progressing investigators this week.
On Monday night we visited Cinthia for the first time since her scheduled baptism on the 24th of November. I introduced her to Hermana Castellanos and we rebuilt some trust with her that evening. On Wednesday we had an amazing experience with her. We talked about the plan of salvation, her mom in the spirit world, and her agency to choose here. She told us a part of her wants to get baptized and another part doesn't. She decided to pray right then and there. The first time she prayed she wasn't sure how she felt but as we talked about listening to the spirit she decided to pray again. After the prayer she waited for a few seconds and then told us she felt peace, that she knew the church was true and that she needed to be baptized. As we walked away I couldn't believe what happened!
Unfortunately in the following days her doubt began to creep back again and she let Satan influence her. In our lesson on Saturday she was as closed off as ever and told us she didn't want to be baptized.
It is so sad to see someone who has received an answer reject the truth. She doesn't want to accept that the church is true. Hopefully someday she will be able to accept what she knows is true but once again we can't do anything for her at this moment. I am grateful for the experience we did have with her, however, and the spirit that we all felt bear witness that this is the true church.
The heat has been a killer and this week. We had a fast for our investigators working toward baptism in the zone. Hermana Castellanos and I tried to drink lots of water in the morning before the fast (here we fast from lunch to lunch) but by the evening we weren't feeling super great. We decided to cheat just a little and drink some water before bed and when we woke up so we would have energy for the next day because with the heat and the humidity we weren't sure if it was healthy to go without water for so long. Hopefully Heavenly Father understands and we can still see the blessings of the fast.
As far as daily life you have been asking about the food is pretty good. I LOVE empanadas and the pizza is pretty good as well. Milanesa is another food that is pretty good (it's a really thin slice of chicken or steak that has a special breading). Hermana Castellanos and I made tacos one day last week with this yummy sauce that she has. Usually in the apartment I just eat cereal and fruit and some crackers that are cheap kind of like saltines. We also have Oreo night occasionally. :) This week we splurged and bought a container of ice cream which I have been enjoying.
I am sleeping great, mostly because we're always so exhausted. This week I have slept without any sheet for the first time in my life with the fan full blast on us because it's been so hot (and will only get hotter HOORAY!).
I'm not sure what else you've all had questions about. Maybe we can talk about them on Christmas.
I LOVE YOU ALL SOOO MUCH! Thank you for your love and support continually! I CAN`T WAIT TO TALK TO YOU WEDNESDAY!