Oh my. Do you all realize that tomorrow marks six months in the mission for me?? Six months is big, and I hardly know what to think. It has gone by so quickly, and I don't even like to think of how quickly this next year is going to pass by. Everything from here on out is my first and last- first and last 18 de September (their patriotic holiday here. HUGE.), first and last Christmas, first and last..... Oh boy.
This week was a very good one. We were able to teach a lot, and guess what? In just another two weeks, you´ll be hearing about our first Estación baptism. This week we found two very prepared Chilean grandpas, and I couldn´t even be more excited for these next couple weeks of teaching them.
Here is the whole story!
Tuesday, we were looking for a street contact that we had, and called at a house near ours. Out came Osvaldo, who reminds me a lot of the grandpa in the movie "Up". He let us in, and we started getting to know him and his story. He's been in and out of many different churches- Catholic, Methodist, Jehovah's Witnesses, and some little local church. He even received the missionaries years back, but never went to church or progressed much because his family wasn't a big fan. We taught him about our missionary purpose and all the blessings he can receive for being baptized in the restored gospel. He accepted a baptismal date and we set a day to come back and teach him.
When we returned, there he was waiting- he told us excitedly that he'd found his old Book of Mormon, and that he'd been reading from it and from the pamphlet for about two hours the night before. He rambled on about Nephi, about baptism, and about receiving the Holy Ghost, saying that he'd been searching for years for a church that could really, truly, give him the gift of the Holy Ghost. Jaw-dropper moment!!! He committed to come to church, even though he has ulcers in both of his legs and walks with a cane. He excitedly introduced us to part of his family, who had come into town to visit and kill one of the pigs (I thought about taking a picture, but didn't want to be rude. It was hanging from the porch when we showed up, dripping blood into a big pan. It was quite dramatic and interesting.). They received us well and even offered us some freshly made soup. We were able to chat with one of the daughters, with his wife, and hopefully begin winning the hearts of the family.
Sunday came, and we arrived at his house about 5 minutes late... Forgive us for still being imperfect in this. Before we even called at the house, he opened the door and came out looking like a genuine Mormon. Suit jacket, pants, Sunday shoes, and a little bag for his Book of Mormon and pamphlets. Yet another jaw-dropper moment from Osvaldo!
We walked slowly together to church, and I counted my blessings that the church is only a block or two from his house. He was eager to greet everyone in church, and really liked the attitude of reverence (when it comes to reverence, I suppose it doesn´t hurt that he's mostly deaf. He did mention that he'd like to hear the classes better and that he's probably going to ask his doctor if he can get some kind of hearing aid.)
And there is Osvaldo! He´s so tender and dear. As for our second Chilean grandpa, on Saturday night we had almost all of plans fall through. We were near the house of Hermana Berta, an outgoing, hilarious, faithful lady that has been a member of the church since she was young. Hermana Nájera mentioned that it had been a while since we´d visited her, so we stopped by intending to ask her for references.
Upon entering the house, Hermana Nájera mentioned, and it soon became evident, that her husband Arturo isn´t a member. He was thrilled to receive us and insisted that we have some hot chocolate, but joked around saying 'Remember that I´m a Catholic!' They have a great sense of humor and they're so fun, even though I don´t always understand what he says. He's one of those that is just a little harder to understand. We chatted with them for a moment and tried to use telepathic communication to decide exactly what to teach. Do we teach him, or ask references? Hermana Nájera finally whispered "The candle example?" and though I wasn't sure at first, we went with it.
The Candle Example. It is a nice, dynamic way to explain the Restoration, the Apostasy, etc. We talked about Christ's original church, and how it had the authority (the flame) to baptize and seal families for eternity. The church had a prophet, (one big candle) and twelve apostles (twelve little candles). After setting up the example, we turn off the lights in the room and light the match. God gave his authority to Jesus Christ, the prophet of the church, and he in turn gave it to each of his apostles. But what happened to Jesus Christ? The people crucified him, and one by one, killed all the apostles. One by one, we blow out each of the candles, and end up sitting in darkness. Lead in to the Restoration, and we relight the candles, explaining that once again we can be baptized by the authority of God and live with our families forever.
It was in this part of the lesson, after relighting the candles, that he said "Allright, you've won me. I want to be baptized." Hermana Berta started crying immediately and covered her face, and Hermana Nájera and I sat there in shock for a moment. Honestly, I didn't even understand him when he said it- it was Hermana Berta that stood up, saying, 'He's gong to be baptized!' and then came over to give us each a hug.
Needless to say, he also came to church and has a baptismal date for the seventh of September. Stay tuned! I think these weeks of teaching them might just be the best of my mission- they´re all so tender, so funny, so loving and excited by the gospel and the possibility of eternity together as man and wife. We also had 49 people in church this Sunday- Woohoo!! We had quite the dramatic experience with a less active family this week, and they came to church. Remind me to write about that in my journal...
Love you all so much. We´ll be seeing each other very soon, at the rate that this mission is passing. Pray that time goes a little slower? I pray for each of you and love you so dearly.
My thoughts and prayers,
Cauquenes, Estación! Elder Crúz, Elder Dumm, Hermana Nájera and I.
Diego- he´s a big fan of stealing the extra tag and playing missionary