Monday, January 23, 2012

Bursitis, recent converts, and the mission baby (Jan 23)

So this was a great week. It's been raining like crazy! It's great fun. I am so grateful that we have a car, because the rain here is really strong sometimes. Apparently it's the start of the rainy season, so I might have to buy some boots. :)

Highlights of the week: exchanges, confirmations, and the mission baby!

First, exchanges! In my mission there are two sisters who are assigned to be sister trainers. They go on exchanges with all of the sisters in the mission to help them learn, kind of like Derek gets to go on exchanges with the people in his district. This week, I went on an exchange with Sister Wakefield, who is wonderful. My companion left and went to San Mateo to be with Sister Wakefield's companion, and Sister Wakefield came here to Richmond. That means that I got to be senior companion for a day. Scary! I really was scared at first, because it's definitely different to be the one that's in charge of the area for the day, but it ended up being one of the best experiences of my mission thus far. We started our exchange on Friday afternoon at the Visitor's Center, and then I had to drive (scarrryyyyyyy, haven't driven since October, and there was torrential rain and our car is ginormous compared to the Bug, AND we're in California) us back to Richmond. Thankfully, we made it there alive and I didn't get lost or crash the car. We were extremely blessed to have appointments all night long. Every single one of our appointments happened as planned, which is something that very rarely happens. I think the Lord knew that I would have a tough time handling driving around in the dark and rain working on our backup plan! We had a lot of excellent appointments, and I learned so much from Sister Wakefield.

On Saturday we had an appointment with a lady that we met on the street. We went in and sang "I am a Child of God," and when Sister Wakefield asked this lady about how she felt about the song, the lady told us that she doesn't believe everybody is a child of God, and that only people who study the Bible are children of God. It was astounding to feel the ABSENCE of the Spirit when she said that. We knew right off it was going to be a tough appointment. This lady was a nice person, but didn't want to learn about the Restoration. She wanted to "Bible Bash," as they say, and it was so hard to hear her rip apart the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the nature of our Heavenly Father. Sister Wakefield and I tried our hardest to boldly testify without being mean or starting to fight with her. When we left the appointment, I felt exhausted. We had a member with us, a 16-year-old girl from the ward, and she said, "Wow, I'm not sure if I want to go on a mission anymore!" We had to reassure her that things like that very rarely happen, and that almost every appointment we have is spiritually edifying because there really are many people who want to learn and feel the Holy Ghost. It's true--that's really the only experience I've had like that. But I'm really glad that we had that appointment. Sister Wakefield and I talked about it afterward and she said that things like that are a chance to really draw closer to the Savior by following His example. He was blasphemed, spit upon, and abused in every way, but He exercised patience and restraint, and always focused on doing the will of His Father before He focused on defending Himself. It's the same thing with missionary work, and with any other instance in which persecutions come. The example of the Savior is always the example to follow, and the Holy Ghost will always tell us, if we listen, what to do.

Another thing I learned from exchanges--gratitude! I'm so grateful for Sister Osborn and everything she does to work hard as the senior companion. There's a lot to think about and do, and she does wonderfully every day. I didn't realize how much she does until I had to take the lead. I'm really blessed to have a great companion. I'm grateful for this exchange because I learned a lot about myself and I can see that I've grown and changed in a lot of ways, and that the Lord has really helped me be prepared to fulfill my calling.

On Sunday the [members of the family that was baptized] were confirmed! It's so great to see how much they've grown since we started teaching them just over a month ago. They're members of the Church! They have the gift of the Holy Ghost! What an incredible blessing. They're so solid and they have strong testimonies. On Sunday night the mission held a fireside called Porque Yo Creo (Why I Believe), which is an opportunity for recent converts to bear testimony. All three of our beautiful recent converts bore their testimonies. It was so amazing to hear each of them say, "Yo testifico que esta es la iglesia verdadera" (I testify that this is the true church). What an amazing thing.

Sister Wade, our mission president's wife, had her baby! We have a mission baby, a little boy. They haven't named him officially yet, but he's unofficially Elder Wade, jaja, and also Jacob David Wade, since he was their firstborn in the wilderness. :)

Other news, I can join the family of running injuries. BURSITIS, dun dun dunnnnnn. I did three days of hard runs in a row and I guess that's the price I pay for having bad form. It's so annoying! It's not too bad, but it's super annoying to go up and down stairs and whatever. Any tips, running addicts?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Baptism Times 3

January 16 letter

So, this was a good week! It was a very stressful week, but it ended with a baptism, which makes it completely worth it. Our cute little family got baptized! It was beautiful. There was a great turn out from the ward, and the chapel was filled at the baptism. We had a few moments of panic, like [the mother] didn't show up until exactly 5:00 (when the meeting was supposed to start) because they were delayed 30 minutes trying to get her elderly mother into the car, and when her brother, who was the one performing the baptisms, didn't show up until 5:10. It worked out great though and it was awesome. The little girl in the family, age 8, was so excited to get baptized that when she walked back to enter the font, she started jumping up and down and squealing. :D So CUTE! It was truly beautiful to see them enter into the covenant of baptism. Having grown up as a member of the church, I don't think I fully realized the sacredness of baptism, but I'm starting to learn more about how our Heavenly Father feels about those who enter into that covenant. It's the beginning of a life dedicated to following the example of Jesus Christ, and it was so amazing to see the [family] dressed in white, ready to start on their path toward returning to live with their Heavenly Father.

It's amazing to me how much you can love people that you've barely met. Like Derek said, it's usually hard for me to let people get close to me, or to let myself get close to them. I'm a "slow mover" when it comes to relationships, but I really feel like the Lord has been merciful with me in letting me feel love for the people here in my mission. We started teaching the [family] just a little over a month ago, but I feel like I've known them my whole life, and when they got baptized, I thought my heart might explode because I felt so much love for them. And even as I type this I'm astounded at how much I feel for them, and how happy I am that they've chosen to make covenants with their Heavenly Father. It blows my mind to think how happy He is for them, and how much love He has--perfect love--for this little family, and for all of us. I think that's the part of my testimony that has grown the most since being called as a missionary--that God really is our loving Heavenly Father. In Preach My Gospel, "God is our loving Heavenly Father" is the first heading of the first lesson, and I can see why. If we understand that God loves us and is literally our Father, then the gospel means so much more. The doctrine of Christ--faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end--means so much more, as does the Atonement, and the Plan of Salvation, and each of the commandments we've been given.

Like Derek's companionship, our companionship is now back to the finding stage. As the [family] progressed, most of our other investigators stopped progressing. Finding is very tough, and sometimes we feel like we've exhausted all of our resources. We were on a sort of missionary high with the [family,] and now we're getting back to the "dirty work" of being a missionary. Like Derek said, sometimes it's hard to talk to everybody, but that's the way the Lord has told us to do the work, so that's what we have to do. It's frustrating and sad to see people choose to say no to the gospel, especially after they've felt the Spirit and know that it's a good thing, but all we can do is invite and invite and invite. Sometimes we have days when we have 3 solid hours of tracting in our schedule, the thought of which almost makes me want to throw in the towel, but I've realized in the past week that a lot of it has to do with attitude, humility, and faith. When I look at tracting and other forms of finding as an opportunity to tell people about the love that their Savior has for them, rather than as a 3 hour block of cold hands and awkward conversations, it's a lot easier to see the miracles that happen when we put forth an honest effort to do the work the way the Lord has asked us to do it.

In other news, I finished the Book of Mormon again this week, and--like always--my testimony of this book has grown ten fold. I am kicking myself for all of the nights before my mission when I decided I was too tired to read my scriptures, or that I had too much homework or whatever. That's one habit I am promising I will keep-- to read and study the Book of Mormon daily!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stake Conference, New Investigators

This week was truly one of the best weeks here. We were blessed with many, many miracles and were able to start teaching a lot of new people. I also realized how blessed I am to be in this ward. The ward here is truly amazing and I feel blessed to be able to get to know them and to see how great they are at doing missionary work.

This week was a little different because we had stake conference. Stake Conference here is different from how it is at home. At home, we can walk to the stake center in just as much time as it takes to get to the chapel. Here, we had to drive 40 minutes to a different city to get to the stake center. Thankfully, we were able to find rides for [the family we're teaching]. The mom and the uncle actually came to the adult session on Saturday night! Amazing. A lot of lifetime members--here and in Utah--don't even do that! The conference was great and we were so happy our investigators came. For the Sunday session, we had FOUR investigators at stake conference. Such a huge blessing. We had the 3 members of the [family], and then a new investigator.... We met her in the street last week and she told us she wants to start going to a church. I was worried what she would think about sitting through two solid hours of talks because she's 19 and used to go to Christian churches with rock bands and stuff, but I really had no reason to worry. I talked to her after and she said, "I really liked it! I think I'll come next week! I like how it's really peaceful and I liked the talks." She's awesome. We taught her later Sunday night and she said (paraphrased), "Yeah, I'm excited to start going to your church. I know I'll have to make a lot of changes but I'm excited. And I know I have to read the Book of Mormon and study a lot so I can decide to be baptized." We invited her to be baptized, and she accepted, but didn't accept a date. We're really happy to be teaching her because she truly is prepared.

We had another investigator accept a baptismal date during our first lesson with us. It was kind of a weird experience for us. We'd been trying to meet with this lady... for weeks. We received her name as a referral and tried for a long time to contact her, but without any luck. On Thursday we went and knocked on her door, just expecting to set up an appointment to come back another day, and she opened it and let us in! Crazy. That never happens! She took us into her living room, sat us down, fed us cucumbers with salt (much to the chagrin of Hermana Osborn, who is not a fan of this delicious green vegetable), and we taught the first lesson to her. The Spirit was definitely there. She told us, "Si, creo que todo eso es verdad." "Yes, I believe all of that is true." We invited her to be baptized at the end of this month and she accepted. We told her about the word of wisdom and she committed to stop drinking coffee. We walked out of the appointment a little bit in shock that everything had happened so quickly! Unfortunately, as has happened with several of our past investigators who have accepted baptismal dates, we haven't been able to have contact with her since that night. We're worried, but we also know that it's going to be up to her to make the choice to prepare for baptism, and all we can do is continuously invite her. Our mission president said in stake conference, quoting Preach My Gospel, that our success is measured by whether or not we invite people to receive the restored gospel. It's true! We experience a lot of disappointment every day when people choose not to accept the gospel, but we see through the miracles we experience daily that the Lord is aware of our efforts to be obedient and to always invite people to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The [family we're teaching] is doing great. We went over the baptismal interview questions with them and they are incredibly prepared to be baptized this Sunday! I feel so blessed to know them. They are amazing. They already have desires to share the gospel with people, and they haven't even been baptized yet! The mom of the family said, "The people out there don't have what we have! We need to be examples for them!" That's really a sign of true conversion--to recognize the blessings of the gospel, and then to have a desire to live in such a way that others can recognize those blessings. They will be interviewed for baptism tomorrow night, and next week I'll be writing all about how their baptism went!

Other comments from this week: I feel so weird around white people! I was shocked at how strange I felt when I walked into the stake center and was surrounded by people speaking English. I didn't realize how immersed I've been in Latino culture until I felt immediately awkward around white people. An odd phenomenon.

People Prepared, Finding Experiences, New Years Eve

January 2nd Letter

First off, we went to the Visitor's Center with our little family on Thursday. I love [that] family! They are so incredibly prepared. It amazes me. At the Visitor's Center, we had them watch the Christus presentation, then a display called God's Plan for His Family. It basically follows a family through the course of the growing up years of their oldest daughter. Hey, that's me! I won't lie, I cried through the whole thing, because I'm just so happy that I'm part of a family that will be together for eternity. AND because [they are] taking the steps to work toward that goal too! There's nothing better than seeing people come to realize that God does have a plan for them. [The mother] said, "Everything is so clear to me" at the end of the presentation. She has amazing faith and an amazing ability to be taught by the Spirit. She's even really excited about doing genealogy so her ancestors can be baptized too!

This week has also been a week of miracles in finding. We have very few people we're teaching right now, but over the weekend we contacted TONS of people. We have a gigantic pool of potential investigators, and 5 appointments tonight alone! We've been very blessed. We had a miracle with [another] guy.... We knocked on his door trying to find a cousin of a sister who lives in our ward who said she might be interested in hearing the gospel. We knocked looking for a Hispanic woman..., but the person who answered the door was a tall black man.... We started teaching him anyway, even though we had the wrong house, and we asked him what it would mean to him to know that there is a prophet on the earth today. He said, "Who is he and how can I meet him?" He said that he had asked God a question and he knew that God sent us to knock on his door. Wow! We won't be the ones who teach him, since he speaks English, but hopefully his heart will be open to listening to the Elders.

We also had a neat finding experience with our next door neighbor. She called us on Friday night and asked if our church does special prayers or blessings for people in need. Someone close to her took advantage of her and betrayed her, and she felt desperate for help. We had the senior missionaries come over so she could receive a priesthood blessing. We talked to her about the atonement and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the way we can become clean from sins and healed from our injuries through faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. She said, "I really need that in my life." She said she felt better after receiving a blessing, and she allowed us to give her information to the English Elders. It was really a neat experience to see someone exercise such faith and humility, and to turn to God for relief.

On Saturday we had our New Year's Eve zone party. WE GOT TO WEAR JEANS! Wow, what an experience. And even better, I got to wear my SPERRYS! :D I've missed them. We also watched Cars 2 (so funny!) and Kung Fu Panda 2. And we ate lots of candy. It was fun! It's weird though, to see how not dressing in proselyting clothes changes your demeanor and attitude. I'm glad we wear proselyting clothes all the time! It's easier to feel like a representative of Jesus Christ when you're "dressed up," just like on Sundays it's easier to be reverent when you stay in your Sunday clothes after church.

Sunday was one of the best days here in the mission. Sunday morning, there was another hour-long panic session when the people who were going to give rides to the ... family either didn't pick up their phones or got lost on their way to their house. We were praying so hard that things would work out, because it's so so SO important that they attend church! Finally, at the last minute, I decided to try calling their ride one more time. I woke her up--turns out her alarm didn't go off and she didn't hear her phone the other times we called her. But thankfully, she was able to come and pick them up, and we made it to church just after the opening prayer. I felt such relief as the Sacrament started and our investigators were there to hear the prayers and see the sacrament be passed to the congregation. We were definitely blessed to have them be able to be at church on Sunday. During Sunday School, [the sister] made the best comment about repentance I've ever heard. She basically taught the doctrine of repentance in just a few sentences--that Christ suffered for our sins and he can cleanse us from sin, but that we still have the responsibility to ask for forgiveness and abandon our sins, and not make the same mistakes over and over again. So great! She's amazing.

On Sunday night we had the blessing of being able to ride with one of the Elders' investigators to her baptism. ... she's from Honduras. We got to ride with her and her family to Oakland, where she was baptized in the building right next to the temple. It was such a blessing to be there and to see her make that important step. I was impressed by the simplicity of the ordinance of baptism. It's so simple and only lasts a few seconds, but the Spirit testifies so powerfully when one of God's children takes that all-important step of entering the waters of baptism and making a covenant with Heavenly Father. It was humbling to watch Elder Pettit, our district leader, bow his head and say the words of the baptismal prayer in Spanish, and then to see everyone's smiles as [she] came up out of the water. The Spirit was very powerful. While [she] was changing her clothes, Hermana Osborn and I had the chance to teach the people who came to the baptism the Doctrine of Christ and the Restoration. As we were finishing, [she] came out of the dressing room, raised her hands in the air, and said, "Thank you for coming. I'M HAPPY!" So great, so great. :D And even better--the [family we're teaching] was there to see the baptism and feel the Spirit that was there, and that will be there at their baptism on January 15th! Just two weeks away! I'm so excited for them!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Two Months Out, Expectations for Investigators, Exchanges (Dec 26)

It was a good week. We're still struggling because our teaching pool is pretty small right now, but we see miracles every day with the people we are able to teach. Especially with the ... family! They're so SO great. Yesterday we had a stressful situation that had to do with them, but it was resolved just fine. They don't have a car, so we have to arrange for rides for them to get to church on Sundays. The ward members are all really willing to help, so we had rides set up for them early in the week. Problem though, on Sunday morning, we called to confirm with their rides, and found out that the member who was going to take them to church wasn't coming to church that day. Big problem. We ran up to the chapel and found someone to go and pick them up, but he got lost and came back to the chapel without them. We felt awful, because by this time the meeting was half over, and there was no point in dragging someone else out of sacrament meeting to go and get our investigators. We were really frustrated and felt guilty because we weren't able to get our investigator to church, and especially on Christmas, when they were actually planning on coming to sacrament meeting! Derek can attest to this--getting investigators to church is one of the hardest things, and one of the most important things. Anyway, they couldn't get to church, but we went to their house afterward and apologized, and everything was resolved. We were afraid that they'd get offended or something and not want to talk to us anymore, which is silly, because they're very nice people, but everything worked out well and we had a great lesson with them.

"Another cool thing from this week--we just started teaching [another young man] ... We went by his house, half expecting him not to be there, because second to church attendance, keeping appointments is our biggest struggle. People tend to just not be home for the appointments they set with us. But when we showed up at Omar's house, he was there! And he had read the things we asked him to read! He had great questions about the plan of salvation and about the importance of baptism. It was a really great lesson. It was a reminder to me that I do need to have more faith in the Spirit's ability to touch the hearts of our investigators. Sometimes it's easy to be negative and expect them to not keep appointments, or to not have read from the scriptures, or to not show up at church, but that's something I need to repent of. The gospel does have the power to influence peoples' lives and actions, and I should be more positive in my expectations of our investigators.

"This week we also had exchanges. I don't know if all missions do this, but in our mission there is one companionship of sisters that is assigned to train other sister missionaries. Not all missions have sister missionaries go on companion exchanges, but our mission does. This Wednesday I got to go to another area to be trained by Hermana Luker. She's really great! It was weird to switch companions for a day, but it was good. I missed Sister Osborn and our area, but I learned a lot from Sister Luker. We focused on the importance of asking inspired questions when teaching and meeting people. You think I'd be better at asking good questions, since that's a big part of what I studied in some of my last classes at BYU, but asking inspired questions is one of the things I struggle with on the mission. I learned a lot from Hermana Luker though, and I'm on my way to improving that skill.

"Wow, I'm not sure what else to say! I made it through my first transfer, and when the new missionaries come on Wednesday, I'll no longer be one of the baby missionaries! Haha, that will feel good :D I'm so glad I was out here for this transfer, and not in the MTC, because I feel like I've grown in a lot of important ways through being thrown into something I didn't feel prepared for. I was already getting comfortable in the MTC by Week 1, so I know I definitely needed to come here early so the Lord could help me push myself. This transfer has been a blessing :)

Study, Service project, Interviews, Ants in the Iron (Dec 19)

From Jessica's December 19 letter:

"This week was a little different. We spent a lot of our mornings doing a big service project, so we didn't get our normal study time. I've missed it! It's so great to be able to sit down and study the scriptures for a solid 3 hours every morning. That may sound sarcastic, but it's not! My love of the scriptures is growing daily, especially as I see how they apply to the lives and problems of every person we encounter. Anyway, our service project this week was a project done through Richmond Child and Family Services. Every year they collect donated toys for families who have little or no income, so their kids can have gifts for Christmas. We got papers describing the childrens' ages and clothing sizes, and then we got to "shop" among the donated gifts to pick out a Christmas package for them. It was really fun, and I got my shopping fix for the year, and I didn't even spend money! We did that project for 3 days in a row--Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday--as a zone.

"On Friday we had interviews with President Wade. Everyone gets nervous about interviews with the President, because it is kind of intimidating, but I always enjoy talking to him. He looked at my scriptures and my planner because, as he says, you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their scriptures and their planner. My Spanish scriptures are still fairly new, so there's not much of a story there, but it was good to have a reminder to use the scriptures as often as possible. :)

"Investigators who get the highlight of the week: [A family with a mom and her kids]! They're so wonderful. We found the uncle of this family my first week here. We were in the library writing letters to our mission president. We were a day late writing our letters because we had new missionary training in Oakland the day before. But I know that we truly were supposed to be there on that day, because he came up to us and said, "I'm a brother, I'm a brother!" He was baptized about a year ago and is now part of our ward. The other day we were thinking about him and we decided to go visit him. He's living with his sister, who just had a baby boy, and her two daughters. The mother and the two daughters are so prepared, and we're so grateful that we found them when we went to visit their uncle. The daughters are 12 and 8. They came to our ward Christmas party, and it was wonderful to see the ward attend to them with so much friendliness and kindness. Actually, the newborn baby boy (just 16 days old! He was born on December 1st :D ) got to play baby Jesus in the nativity presentation! He was perfect--no crying or wiggling at all. That was a blessing because it helped his mom feel welcome in the ward. They all came to church on Sunday, and they loved it. We also had a lesson with them on Sunday night, and it went really well. The mom understands the apostasy really well, which is something that is really rare. Their hearts are prepared, and they have a real desire to know the truth and to act in faith. We did invite them to be baptized, and they said they will prepare to be baptized, but they didn't accept a baptismal date. We're very excited for them! The Lord really has prepared a lot of people to receive the gospel!

"Another story... We had a lesson with [a brother] last week, and it was amazing. We taught the message of the restoration, and at the end of the lesson, he opened his heart up and told us about some very difficult struggles his family has been through. It was another testimony to me that the Spirit's influence is powerful in helping people open their hearts to the truth. People have shared so many things with me, and I feel blessed to hear their stories and be trusted with the difficult things that are happening in their lives. It's a blessing to be able to see that people do have a willingness to change, and that their honesty and openness with us is a sign that the Spirit is working in them. The fact that they trust us so much--a couple of random gringas that knocked on their door--really tells me that it's the Spirit that influences people to recognize us as representatives of Jesus Christ. It's amazing. It's so easy to love these people. I know that's a gift of the Spirit too--something that I've talked about before. It's astounding to be able to feel so close to people so quickly, and I know that comes from the sacred calling we've been given to represent the Savior and help them feel the love that their Heavenly Father has for them.

Funny story of the week--we found ants in our iron! In our IRON! Crazy. In the Christmas package I sent (I hope you got it!) there's an envelope on top with pictures. Don't open anything but the envelope! The stuff in the box isn't wrapped! P.S., I got the Christmas package you sent me, Mom, and I'm so excited! We have it all set out under our Charlie Brown Christmas tree. :)

Zone Conference, Christmas Party, Agency, (Dec 12)

From Jessica's December 12 letter home:
This was a crazy week! Well, I'm seeing that every week is a crazy week. This week was a little different because we had zone conference. I'm amazed at how much work and love goes into things like this. President and Sister Wade prepared an amazing training session on how to extend invitations in the Lord's way. Missionary work is all about extending invitations. Extending an invitation gives someone the power to exercise their agency to follow the example of Jesus Christ. If there's one thing that's been both super frustrating and super amazing, it's been learning the power of agency. It's very painful to watch people choose to NOT do what they know is right, especially when they've felt the Spirit and they know that the gospel can bring them happiness. It's so, so sad, especially when you care about them and you want them to choose the things that will make them happy. On the other hand, there's nothing more exciting than seeing someone keep their commitments and use their agency to choose the right and follow Jesus Christ!

As another part of zone conference, we had a Christmas party of sorts. The members of the ward that occupies the chapel in which we held the meeting prepared a really great lunch for us. I'm constantly amazed at the generosity of members. It's eally a blessing to see their examples, and it's humbling to be the recipient of heir generosity.

After lunch, we played a gigantic version of the gift-stealing game (the one where you take a number and you can steal peoples' gifts, etc.). Haha, President Wade old us to set aside our Christlike attributes for 2 hours while we played, and like obedient missionaries, we did exactly what he told us to. :) The gifts were all packages of missionary essentials--canned food, boxed food (including Ramen), oothpaste and razors and Windex and laundry soap--with some extra surprises thrown n. The big gift of the day was a snowcone machine. That one got stolen several imes. :) We almost ended up with it, but an elder stole it from Hermana Osborn, haha. I couldn't believe how much WORK went into preparing the gifts for us. There were about 70 missionaries there and all of us walked out with extra food and apartment supplies.

After zone conference, we had one of those time-wasting experiences like Derek talked about. We were supposed to go to the Visitor's Center with THREE investigators, but one by one they all canceled, so we got stuck on the freeway for almost an hour and didn't end up having any appointments. It was awful! We wasted lot of time and I felt terrible, just like Derek said. But thankfully when we got back, we had a lesson with a less-active recent convert.... We've been trying so, SO hard to help him come to church. I was pretty direct with him in his lesson, more direct than my personality usually is. I straight up called him to repentance and told him that the responsibility for being worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost is his. I was suprised at how direct I was, but because I know that's not a part of my personality, and because the Spirit was present during that lesson, I know that the boldness of my invitation to come back to church came through the Spirit. In the meantime, [he] is in our prayers (he didn't come to church), and hopefully he'll find the motivation to make the choice to come to church.

Other news, we had to drop [the] stellar couple we were teaching. They were actually the people we taught during my first appointment. It's heartbreaking to have to drop people, but they aren't progressing anymore. We've been going crazy trying to get in contact with them and set appointments, but to no avail. Hopefully
they'll come around later and be able to make the choice to continue progressing toward baptism.

Our main investigator right now is ... an older gentleman who speaks so quickly my brain sometimes shuts down when I'm listening to him. I think I've talked about him before. He loves the scriptures, and he reads intently. I'm learning a lot from
the way he reads. He'll read out loud, and go over a verse 2 or 3 times to get the meaning of every word. He really studies as he reads, and I know that will be a blessing in helping him receive a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I have a lot of anxiety about Rafael, not because he's not progressing, but because I care so much
about him and he has so much potential. We're teaching him tonight, so hopefully all goes well!

Funny stories of the week: I ate a waffle with chopsticks yesterday. It was pretty fun. And there was practically a war in Relief Society over whether we should have ham or turkey at the Christmas party. Also, a guy that we ran into about 2 days ago on the street (and with whom we spoke English) answered the door when we were tracting yesterday. And he told us he doesn't speak English. So we taught him in Spanish on his doorstep, and then he said, "Lo siento, pero estoy mirando el futbol. No puedo hablar ahorita." Translation: "Sorry, but I'm watching soccer. I can't talk right now." As great an excuse as any I've heard :)