Letter received 7/26
Translation: By reason or by force.
Welcome to my week.
Last week I mentioned that I had bronchitis. With all my millions of drugs, I was sure that I was going to get better right away and spend the whole week working like a burro, as HQ says. We worked like burros all week, but I never got better. To be fair, I´m getting better, but I´m not really sure WHY it´s so slow, since I was super strict with my week of antibiotics and did all the crazy things that everyone told me (I need someone without crazy Latino traditions to tell me if it´s actually valid that when I have bronchitis I can´t drink cold drinks, the cold air is going to kill me, and I can´t leave the house without a scarf. I don´t know anything about being sick, apparently). But don´t worry, it didn´t stop our work at all and this week we were: CELESTIAL MISSIONARIES!
Of the seven companionships in our zone, 5 reached the celestial level, and we were only 3 new investigators short of being a celestial zone. I was a little tortured by that all night after I heard, but we are the only zone in level 3, and we were SO CLOSE to being celestial. It´s okay, we´ve got it this week.
So this is how it went down. We started out well Monday, with 2 new investigators and 1 lesson with a member. McKay told me they had members work with them every night. Que bendicion! We have a hard time working with members, but as the title of this email says (by the way, that´s the national slogan of Chile), we´re working by reason or by force and no matter what, this week is going to be better.
Tuesday night one of our zone leaders, Elder Gonzalez, worked with us. Our zone leaders are seriously amazing, they inspire us A LOT and always have really good ideas about how we can work harder and have more success. So naturally, we wanted to see how it´s done. E. Gonzalez is more or less our best friend, so he kept saying that actually he was with us to learn, not to teach, but it turned out to be a really good experience. We went to teach Liliana, who we met for the first time last Sunday (she was part of our miraculous Sunday). We had left 3 Nephi 27 for her to read, and when we asked what she had learned, she was like "mostly that I need to get baptized." So we started talking about that, and apparently she was almost about to get baptized before, the first time she met the missionaries, but never felt ready so she never did. But on Tuesday night she said that this time she really was ready, that she knew it was the right thing to do, etc. So we set a baptismal date for August 14th. And I set the date! It was sweet, the lesson was super spiritual and the little bit of pride in me was glad that Elder Gonzalez was there to see that instead of a lesson where we got totally shot down. She´s never come to church before, because she works during the night (we were super afraid that her job was going to interfere with her obedience to the law of chastity, and we didn´t know how to get her to tell us where she worked, so E. Gonzalez asked, but she just said she worked in a bar... we´ll get to that in a second), but she committed to come to church, said that she knew she really had to change her life, etc. We were super, super happy when we left, with a baptismal date for this transfer! We taught her again on Saturday, and discovered some unfortunate facts. We decided to teach the Sabbath Day, Word of Wisdom, and the Law of Chastity right off the bat, just to make sure that she really could get baptized. Tuesday when we were teaching she started crying when I was talking, I´m not really sure why, she just said that my voice made her really emotional. So HQ said that I had to teach chastity, because my "angelic" voice would testify to her that she had to obey. So I said what the Spirit told me, she said that there was no problem, that she would obey, and that there was nothing currently interfering with this commandment. Okay. Onto Word of Wisdom. HQ read the list of 5 things that the Word of Wisdom prohibits (coffee, tea, alcohol, smoking, and drugs) and Liliana said, "Okay, I have a problem with all of them." HQ: "Umm... all of them?" "Yes." "Drugs?" "Yup." Oooookay. Apparently she works in a bar to drink with men and the more she drinks, the more she gets paid. We verified (is that the word? Verificar?) up and down with law of chastity, to make sure she really doesn´t do anything else but drink, and really, that´s it. She told us that she leaves super drunk, but she gets paid more there than any other place she could work, and she has 4 kids she has to pay for, and this job lets her live comfortably. Also, because she gets super drunk every night, it´s really hard to wake up at 9 to get to church by 10 on Sundays. She told us that she´d go to bed early and that she´d come to church, by we went to pick her up on Sunday and she was sleeping and wouldn´t wake up. We are a little discouraged, and she definitely won´t be getting baptized on August 14th, but she told us that she knows she has to change, that she really wants to, that she knows the Lord can help her, and that she´s going to start right now to quit smoking and doing drugs. To stop drinking she´s going to need to find a different job, so we´re working on that, but really, we have a lot of faith. And so does she. And whoever stays, whether it´s HQ or me, is eventually going to have a super faithful convert.
By the way, transfers are in 3 weeks now, and I can´t remember who asked me if it´s been forever that I´ve been with HQ, but the answer is yes. We work super well together, and I think that´s why they left us together 3 transfers, but it´s pretty much guaranteed that this transfer one of us is leaving. In my interview with President Bruce he was like "Wow, this is your third transfer in Iquique, in your first area. That´s quite some time" and I was like, "Yeah, but this my companion´s fourth transfer" and he was like "Yeah, but she only has one more...." So we´re thinking it´s a possibility that I´ll leave and HQ will die (finish her mission) here. We´ll see what happens, but really, no matter what, it´s going to be sad to not be with her, and with our zone leaders, and with my district leader, Elder Vidal. He´s been my district leader since the beginning, and he´s our other best friend, but he finishes his mission this transfer. And we´re pretty sure they´re not going to leave Elder Gonzalez and Elder Insaurralde together another transfer either. If I stay and HQ, E. Gonzalez and E. Vidal all leave, it´s going to be way different and way sad. BUT I don´t need to think about transfers yet! We still have time!
So we´ve been having quite a hard time getting investigators to church. I think I´ve mentioned it before, but we do EVERYTHING we can. We ask them a million times if they´ll come, they say yes, we promise blessings, we tell them why it´s important, we invite them in every lesson, we call them Saturday night and Sunday morning, we go to pick them up on Sunday morning... and no one comes. The last few weeks we´ve had few prospects, but as of Sunday morning when we left the house, we had 9 people who said that they were definitely going to come. We were so pumped! Funny that even after a million weeks of everyone not showing up, we don´t lose faith, right? We called. We knocked on their doors. We showed up at church with no one, pretty much depressed. About halfway through Sacrament Meeting, Guillermo, who lives right next to the church and whose door we knocked on about 5 minutes before church started and no one answered, walks in. We were super happy. We only taught him once, on Saturday, but he was really interested. After Sacrament Meeting he was like "Where can I get one of those books that everyone is reading? I need to follow along during the talks!" Haha he´s great. Also, we were especially disappointed by Angel, an investigator who we´ve been teaching for quite some time. We set a date with him before, but he didn´t come to church the week after, so we stopped visiting him. Miraculously the week after that, he came, but we never saw him again until this week. He said he had really been missing us, and he wanted to start meeting with us again. He promised us a million times he´d come to church, but we never saw him come in. BUT! After Sacrament Meeting we were happily bringing Guillermo to Gospel Essentials and the bishop´s wife was like "Hey, someone named Angel is looking for you" and we freaked out. He came! He stayed all three hours (so did Guillermo), and he is surely going to get baptized. :) So, at long last, we had 2 investigators at church and it was sooo great.
Another funny story (time is running SUPER short but I want to tell you guys everything!): We knocked on Guillermo´s door before church and while we were waiting a young man passed by. I bet HQ that he was gringo, because he was super white and tall. She bet me he was Chilean. Guillermo didn´t answer, so we walked past the church to knock on Juan´s door, who is another investigator who lives on the other side of the church, but really close. While we were waiting there HQ told me that he (the gringo/Chilean) had entered the church, and he was walking by again. He stoppped where we were, and I said hello, but in Spanish, and in really broken English, he asked if I was gringo, and then he asked what we were doing. I told him yes, I´m from the USA, but also in really broken English because surprise! I can´t speak English anymore. Because I couldn´t remember ANY words to say to him in English, I told him that we were bringing our investigators to church. He asked what an investigator was, and if he had a magnifying glass. Like a spy, I guess? Anyway, he told me he was from Australia, so neither HQ or I was right, but I don´t understand why his English was so bad if he was from Australia. And he clearly didn´t speak Spanish, because he tried to ask HQ where she was from and she had no idea what he saying. I´m sure he was thinking the same thing about me, that he has no idea why I can´t speak English if I´m from the US. I asked him if he wanted to come to church with us, but he said that he had gone in but there were only old people and that it looked boring. I told him that the old people are always early and the young people are always late, but that it´s not really boring. He said we were going to make baby Jesus cry if we were late. It was a really awkward conversation, and really, I´m kind of worried that I won´t be able to speak in English at all when I get home. Writing isn´t a problem, but I think it´s because I still always read in English, and ever since Hermana Montandon left I NEVER speak English with anyone. We´ll see if I ever get any practice in before I come home.
Yesterday we needed 3 new investigators and 3 lessons with members to reach the Celestial level, and we knew we had to count on miracles, just like last week. A huge barrier was La Tirana Chica, which is just like the regular Tirana festival, but right here in our sector. Wonderful, right? Exactly the streets where we had all our appts were completely crowded with people in strange costumes dancing and playing instruments, and a million huge statues of the Virgin Mary with lights illuminating her. It was super creepy. BUT we had a member working with us, so we found our 3 new investigators, and had 3 lessons with members, and at 8 pm when we finished, I was practically dying, and we went to our apartment, dead tired, but super happy that we had accomplished our goals. We are celestial missionaries! It feels great.
I have more to say, and I want to send pictures, but the hour has passed oh-so-rapidly. I hope you´re all doing well, thank you thank you thank for your emails, I love you, and I next Monday I´ll let you know how our week was. Hopefully I´ll get better super quickly so we can work without fainting this week and be celestial missionaries again!
Sorry if this email was super jumbled-- as I mentioned, I don´t know English, we have no time, and I didn´t do a very good job of planning what I wanted to say. But I hope you understood, more or less, how my week was.
Have a good week! Love you!