Sunday, January 1, 2012

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 :)

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