Wow, this ward is amazing. Almost 200 people at church, and to me it felt full, but Elder Gehring and Elder McBride said it felt empty to them, knowing how many usually show up. I was excited. The actual part of Santiago kind of has a Wicker park feel to it. Not quite downtown, downtown Chicago, obviously not like the Loop, but Republica is the most downtown zone in the mission. Maybe like an Evanston Feel to it.
We´re having 2 baptisms this week! and we just set another baptismal date for the end of the month! Violeta and Raiko are getting baptized this Saturday Violeta is like a 50ish year old Peruvian lady and very ready to be baptized. Her daughter Dhelma (25) is a recent convert, and they both rent a room at a member´s house. She´s been going to church for like 7 months, but she was just waiting for the opportune moment to ask her other children and husband for permission, to see if they´re okay with her being baptized. and they are! She is really bubbly, always has a smile, jokes around and is funny, but serious and very spiritual when it´s time to be spiritual. She´s so excited for her baptism, and I´m excited for her.
Raiko is 11, young but nevertheless large in stature, and very, VERY quiet and shy. His parents and brother are members and active. He´s read up through 2 Nephi by himself! When I first met him, I asked him what he likes to do. "I love reading the Book of Mormon." That´s cool! What else? "I like memorizing the articles of faith. I´m only missing 3 of them, and then I´ll have them all memorized. But I brought them to church last week, and lost them." He lost his article of Faith card, so I gave him a new one. and he sat there for 5 minutes just silently reading over them. He´s just a great kid.
One of the cool things about this ward is that we have been able to go on divisions with the members almost every day! We only taught like 3 lessons to investigators without a member there with us. It also helps that we are teaching some part-member households. And the members give us references! It´s great.
On Friday, we went to Concilio, which is where all the zone leaders go to President´s house and have a 9am-4/5pm training, once a month. We ate breakfast and lunch there, too. We gave a report of our zones first, then learning the month´s iniciative from President, then had a sort of council where we just talked about the mission and the changes that will be happening. And there´s going to be a lot. It was a really good experience.
The iniciative that we have as a misison (we´ll teach it to our zone this week) is obviously about Christmas Family night/ family home evening in spanish is "Noche de Hogar", literally, "home night." This month, we´re going to do "Noches de Cristo" literally, "Christ nights." President presented it to us as if we were members/investigators in a home, doing a Noche de Cristo. We started with a hymn, and then talked about traditions we have during Christmas. We then read some verses from the Bible, mostly in Luke, but instead of just reading it, we watched the new bible videos that accompany it! It sure gave me a lot of insight into the story of the birth of Christ. Then after, we talked a little bit about the life of Christ, and connected it to the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now we´re going to do that with some members and have them invite their friends.
Going off what you wrote, dad, about Prayer and going all in, we were with our Ward mission leader (AWESOME), Luis, teaching an investigator. The investigator let us know that he had read the Book of Mormon, and had prayed about it, but that he hadn´t received an answer yet. Luis took that opportunity to talk a lot about prayer. While talking, he explained that when it talks about praying with a "sincere heart," it´s talking about really wanting to know, but REALLY wanting to know. That can really be referred to as the intensity of your prayers. Or like you say, going all in. Not being fanatically obsessed with one little detail or one little note in the orchestral symphony of the Gospel, as Elder Oaks teaches, but going all in. I´m going to really look for "sincere heart" when I read the scriptures, and see if I understand the meaning better if I substitute it with intensity or going all in. just a thought.
Happy Christmas season!!
We gotta go. Love you guys!
Elder Cole Moffat