Letter received 8/2/2010
Well, the good news is that we´re CELESTIAL MISSIONARIES again this week, and what´s better, we´re also a CELESTIAL ZONE!! We´ve all been working super hard (well, there is one companionship that´s slacking but we have some SUPER great companionships who make up for their laziness, and the level of the zone is based on averages, thank goodness) and we´re basically dead every night and especially by Monday, BUT we´re so happy that we don´t even rest, we just play! This morning we went up to Hospicio, which is a SUPER COLD city about 15 minutes up the mountain from Iquique. Everyone played soccer while I took pictures and wrote letters (soccer = not my strong point, as we discussed the last time, plus I´m still coughing from my bronchitis), but the best part was the medals that Mom sent in the package. I don´t know HOW she knew that we´d need them, but luckily Iquique won and everyone in the district was super happy to have a medal. The sunglasses/glowsticks/other things we´re saving for a party the last P-day before everyone leaves.
Tuesday we set a baptismal date, and we were super happy because it was a "real" date, aka not going to fall through because he´d already been to church. Lots of times we set a date but it can´t count if they´ve never been to church, so we set the date, wait for Sunday to come, and are super depressed when the investigator doesn´t come to church and we don´t have a baptismal date. But we had a really good lesson with Guillermo on Tuesday, the investigator who came to church basically out of the blue on Sunday, and he agreed to be baptized on August 14. In our zeal and ambition to have a baptism this transfer, we didn´t leave the 4 Sundays that we usually leave, in case they miss one Sunday. And guess who didn´t come to church yesterday? Guillermo. So, to have gone to church 3 times before his baptism, he´ll need two more and won´t be able to get baptized on August 14, the last Saturday of this transfer. And now we don´t have hope for a baptism before one of us leaves. Angel didn´t come to church either. That man... The fact is that we are super satisfied because of our work, that we feel like we´re doing everything possible, but we´re disappointed because some very important things on not happening on the part of the investigators, aka going to church so they can be baptized! But, it says in PMG that when we do everything possible and work with the Spirit, we might be disappointed in what happens but we won´t be disappointed with ourselves. Welcome to my life.
Carlos, my first convert here, received the priesthood yesterday! He´s been kind of less active ever since his baptism, but he was working basically 12 hours 7 days a week, and he just quit that job is looking for a new one, and he´s been really excited about everything at church. Last week Jorge, our super tall Paraguayan convert, and Felipe, who got baptized with his sister Allison, blessed the Sacrament together. It was such a great moment. Jorge is the bomb, he started sharing the gospel with one of his co-workers (she works in the morning and he works in the afternoon/evening, at the same desk, so he leaves his Book of Mormon and Principles of the Gospel book for her to read) but she lives in ZL´s area so they have been teaching her, and they told us last night that she accepted a baptismal date! And she said "Jorge told me that he felt the Spirit super strongly with the missionaries, and now I know what he was talking about!" Ah, there´s no greater feeling than having faithful, excited converts.
I got your package on SATURDAY because we had a special meeting about changes that are going to be happening. We don´t know much, but apparently Salt Lake told our mission president that transfers are going to be every month, or every 4 weeks, instead of every 6 weeks. The worst part is that the second that everyone heard the news, their first instinct was to start complaining. I couldn´t believe the amount of whining that we heard in that hour of our lives. I´m not sure if I used to be that person, but if I was, I´m certainly not now. We have monthly goals for baptisms as a zone, and that´s going to affect if we´re celestial missionaries or not, and seriously everyone started complaining that it´s going to stress us out and justifying why they won´t be able to do it, why their numbers are low, etc. Our zone leaders are SUPER great-- they´re my best friends and they really motivate us, but last week they asked HQ and I to evaluate them to see what they could be doing better. We said that they might be a little too interested in being our friends instead of rebuking us when we need it, and I guess they really took that to heart, because they just started to "darles palo," as they say here in Chile, which means rebuking them. They weren´t yelling, or insulting us, or anything, but they were giving us advice on what we need to do to be more effective missionaries, how we can boost our numbers, etc. Their numbers are always really good, so I respect their advice, and I was taking notes while everyone just started to complain more. It made me kind of angry to see the lack of respect they have for the revelation that our leaders (the brethren in Salt Lake who changed the system of transfers, the mission president who set goals for us, our ZLs who advise us) receive, and how they all supposedly want to be here on the mission, but they don´t want to do what´s necessary to really serve God. Okay, that was a little strong-worded, I apologize. But I´ve been feeling really, really good lately. I love being on the mission. God works miracles every single day, and many more when we are really obedient. I´ve been learning more than ever the purpose of being here on a mission and I love, love, LOVE it. I´m super grateful for this time I have in my life and really couldn´t be happier. Even the complaining missionaries in my zone got their act together eventually and did what was necessary to achieve the CELESTIAL ZONE status, so I really couldn´t ask for more.
On a related note, I really am more and more of a missionary every day. The most exciting thing in the package was the 10 EFY CDs, because I LOVE listening to EFY music! Hahaha. Does that ring a bell for any returned missionaries out there?
Okay, I love you all A LOT, even though you don´t write me. I´m grateful for the support I receive and the prayers as well. I hope you´re doing well, I pray for you every day! Have a good week!