August 9, 2012

Happy Family Reunion! and God Bless ´Mrkuh, July 7, 2012

Hey there in California!  I just learned I´m a little bit out of shape... I just played some soccer and it was tiring.  It´s cool how little 6 and 7 year olds play football here really well.  and score goals when playing with missionaries and old guys that aren´t going easy on them.

Funny stuff of this week (and stuff I forgot to say about last week).  Preached from the pulpit: Nephi was apparently 16 when he had the vision of the Tree of Life... I´m not sure where it says that, but some guy said it from the pulpit.  "And Nephi, a mere 16 year old young man, prayed to God with faith to see the same vision his father saw.  And God answered this young 16-year old´s prayer.  God loves his children, and will answer anyone´s prayers when they pray with faith."  Okay, so he was trying to teach a good principle-- God answers prayers-- he just made up some details... interesting.  Then in the chapel, this kid goes up to the pulpit during a talk, grabs one of the hymnbooks, and yells to his mom on the front row, "MOM!  These hymnbooks are HUGE!!! Look how big they are!!!!"  He was probably used to the little travel ones (that are incredibly convenient, btw) that everyone has here.  I actually really like mine.  I can take it anywhere.  It´s good to use in lessons sometimes.  We got shots this week, too because we had Zone conference, and its that time of year.  President and Sister King gave the shots, but don´t worry.  They practiced on eachother first.  President was just used to giving shots to horses.  I opted to have Sister King give me mine.  We had some medical advice in Priesthood last Sunday (going back to every Chilean thinks they´re a doctor), and apparently sausage causes alzheimers in youth... not quite sure about that one yet.

But we did have our Elders Quorum President organize divisions with us last Sunday, which is the first time that´s happened while I´ve been on my mission.  I was really really really happy that the members here are willing to go out with us and work.

Something that´s really good here in Chile that I like a lot is the emphasis on Ward Conference.  Back in our ward at home, ward conference was just another Sunday, and when we showed up and the stake president was there and we started sustaining people, then I realized it was ward conference.  Maybe I was just a clueless teenager.  But here, It´s a big deal.  For example, in Las Avenidas (end of May), we had our ward activity the week of to get some excitement going, then there were little souveneirs to take home from sacrament meeting, with a scripture verse that´s the theme or motto of the conference, and that theme/scripture lasts the entire next 12 months until the next ward conference.  Tomorrow, we have ward conference here in Maipú.  The scripture/theme of it is Alma 5:14- "And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God?  Have ye received his image in your countenances?  Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?"  The conference actually started Monday.  Monday night, everyone was supposed to have their family night with the lesson focusing on the first question "Have ye spiritually been born of God?"  We went to the Fernandez Family´s family night.  The Mom and Daughter are active because they want to be, a son and another daughter are activeish because their sister brings them, another daughter is not active, and neither is the dad, even though he used to have a stake calling in a different stake (sadly, that´s not too uncommon).  So that was an interesting family night, but it was a really good discussion, and everyone participated.  YAY!  Tuesday night was home teaching/visiting teaching night, when everyone was supposed to go do their visits, and invite people to the conference.  Wednesday we had a Ward Family Night in the chapel, with the lesson on the other 2 questions.  Standard Mormon time "starts at 8" but really started at 8:50, but there was actually more reverence during the lesson than in sacrament meeting.  And then kareoke!  There´s a member family that does events, and has some professional kareoke equipment.  that was entertaining, too :)  I don´t know if there was anything thursday... I think a ward leadership meeting.  Friday was ward temple night (and if you had to work during the "ward´s session" you were supposed to try and go to some other session that day).  Today was deep cleaning the chapel (Youth and priesthood I think), and Tomorrow is the conference.  I kind of like having Spirit Week before Ward Conference :)

Tuesday we went to the Zone Conference.  It was awesome.  We learned about "Seek Learning by Faith" (see Elder Bednar´s Article in the September 2007 Ensign-- Incredibly insightful  And now we have to 1) apply it to our lives by really acting and working in order to learn and gain experience, and 2) help members and investigators (primarily investigators) understand that while they can learn from what we teach them, that is not enough.  They won´t truly learn and interalize anything until they act, until they exercise faith and work to gain experience and LEARN.  that we as missionaries can´t do everything, that they need to get up and do things, too.

Yestderday, Friday, was full of things to tell.

First, I sent people downtown to do all their visa stuff-- my first time!  Well, I definitely learned things.  There are 2 pages of instructions that everyone got along with all the things they needed.  Well, there´s one part of the process that if they don´t do, or don´t do correctly, there can be a whole lot of time wasted and a lot of hassle in about 2 weeks.  If they do it right, I walk 3 blocks to go pick up their gov´t ID card in 2 weeks.  If they do it wrong, I have to go all the way downtown to do the same thing that could have been done 3 blocks away.  If they don´t do it at all, THEY have to go downtown (normally getting lost on the way), waste money and time, and do the same thing that could have been done 3 blocks away.  SO, before each person left, I pointed out that part and begged them to do it right.  2 out of 6 did it right.  2 did it wrong.  2 didn´t do it at all.  I highlighted it, I talked about it, I reminded them, and it was all written right there.  Elder Gimenez told me after that he´d learned to just give them the written instructions and not explain anything-- just tell them that it´s all written down, and if they follow everything that it says, they won´t have a problem.  and it goes perfectly every time.  Who would have thunk that the only thing that I would explain would literally be the only thing they mess up.  But, I learned a valuable lesson about the Lord.  He writes down scriptures.  He gives us prophets.  He sends the Holy Ghost.  He WANTS to help every single person.  And even after all that, people don´t use all the resources He´s given them.  On an extremely, extremely small scale, I experienced a small part of the sadness that God must feel for many of his children when they don´t value all the things He´s blessed them with.  Myself included.  In highschool, why did I not read the scriptures every day?  I sure needed their direction.  And they were always there available, I just didn´t use them.  Even this morning, I was just sitting during Personal Study and pondering, reflecting (which is good and beneficial), but I wasn´t going to read the Book of Mormon-- Just sit there and ponder.  Then I had the prompting to read the Book of Mormon, and I started to shrugg it off because I was really working through some things in my mind.  But I realized that God wants me to read the Book of Mormon, especially when the spirit prompts me to do it.  So I read Helaman 3-5 and felt almost physically nourished at the end of it.  Basically, It was a valuable lesson learned in the midst of a few small minutes of testing during visa runs.

Then that night, I learned just as much in a lesson as the people I was teaching learned.  I relearned the importance of the spirit in lessons-- and in life.  And now analyzing it, I applied the "learning by faith" principle from Zone Conference.  We went to a recent convert´s house, and his wife, Elsa, and 20-year old grandaughter, Camila, were there.  They aren´t members, but Elsa´s only obstacle is that she can´t get off work on Sundays.  Camila had heard the Elders before, but only when they happened to be teaching her Grandparents when she stopped by.  She lives in another part of Maipú.  We shared a bit, and then my wonderfully in-tune companion asked an inspired question-- What was something that called Camila´s attention when she´d met with the Elders before.  What she explained was how she felt the spirit, though she she did not yet know it was the spirit.  She talked of the peace that she felt as they conversed, and the calmness about them as they spoke.  As she finished explaining, Dad´s counsel popped in my head from a number of months ago-- "When the spirit is there, point it out to them!"  I had learned the idea from dad, but here I had yet another opportunity to really learn it by following the prompting I recieved, in faith.  I then was able to testify that what she had been feeling, and what she was feeling right then, was the Spirit.  And those good feelings that come from the spirit actually testify, not of the missionary as a person, but of the truthfulness of the message and teachings he was sharing.   She got it, and definitely felt the spirit.  It was a wonderful lesson. :)

WELL, that´s all, folks.  One more thing-- Could you comment on the spiritual experiences you´re having/ blessings you´ve seen in your life, missionary opportunities you´ve taken advantage of?  I´d really really like to hear about that kind of stuff.

Love ya, miss ya, pray for ya, all that jazz.
Elder Cole Moffat