My, have I missed Tezontepec. I had forgotten how utterly stark of a contrast there was between Tezo and Tecamac. Back towards the inner city, the people are incredibly closed and don't ever really accept us. Here in Tezo, the people are far too open! Our daily standard is 10 different contacts with people every day, but it's super hard to get that when every door you knock lets you share a lesson with them! Tezo is the land of finding a bunch and dropping a bunch, because they usually aren't there the next time we swing by for our second appointment. Fortunately, it lets us know quite quickly who really is interested in actually doing something and who just wanted to listen to a pretty message about Jesus one time and not change a single thing about their lives. That's why one of the key points of the first lesson that we explain is, "our message cannot be fully understood in one visit." There's far too much to learn in the gospel to learn it all in a half hour! So much to teach and so little time to do so!
Speaking of little time to do so, we found the best investigator this week. Well, we sort of found her. Her name is Carmen, and she's been attending church for about a year and a half. My Elder Barrios and his previous companion, however, did not know that she wasn't a member until last Sunday. She's always been so involved in everything (including teaching the gospel principles class) that the missionaries have always just thought she was a member. The only thing missing was being thrown in the water and putting her name in the computer.
So Elder Barrios and I swung by this week--various times--looking for her. In the process, we found and taught her two twenty-ish-year-old sons who are absolutely golden; super ready to receive the gospel. They already call us "Elderes" instead of "hermanos" (which we always love to hear), they have no problems with the Word of Wisdom or Law of Chastity, and one of them even went with us to an appointment to teach his aunt and uncle who lived close by. It was awesome! It wasn't until Friday when we finally found Carmen. She, too, is very ready to receive the gospel. She's been attending church for a year and a half, so she pretty much already knows everything. All we have to do is make sure that we teach all of the points of the lessons, clear up any doubts, get her a baptismal interview, and there you have it folks! Three converts all nicely and neatly wrapped up to go! The Lord works in mysterious ways, I suppose, and if that means discovering an investigator that's been attending church all this time, I'm okay with that!
In other news, I got to see one of my old converts from Presas this past week. According to her, I've lost weight, but I think it's because all of the members in Presas feed us so darn much! Those three months in Tecamac did me good! That's pretty much all I have for this week. No assaults, no gun shots, not even a whole lot of fireworks. Just some guy in the local city square preaching apostacy one evening. I wanted to grab that microphone and preach something that could actually help people, but we figured getting to our appointment was a little more important than taking him down. Oh well. Maybe next time.
Iré y haré,
I wish to start my email for this week with a story that President Egbert shared with us.
God once appeared to a man and commanded him to push a large boulder. This man, being of the obedient type began, his work and pushed. He pushed and pushed for hours, days, weeks, and months, but the boulder didn't move. Notwithstanding, he continued to push.
One night, the man lie awake in bed, and Satan came to him. He asked him why he continued to push so much if the boulder had not moved. Satan caused this man to think he had failed at the task God had given him and that he should simply give up.
"He's right," thought the man. "I've been pushing all this time and haven't been able to move the boulder even an inch." He thought it better to simply give up given his apparent failure.
Instead of simply giving up, this man turned to the Lord, asking for forgiveness for having failed Him. The Lord appeared to him and asked, "How have you failed me? Your task was to push the boulder, and you have done so. Now that you have done so, look at yourself now. Your arms are rugged and strong, your back has been strengthened and bronzed, and your legs can withstand the forces required of them. Your task was not to move the boulder, and you have therefore in no way failed me. You have accomplished your task of pushing the boulder. Now I will move it."
I have come to learn over the course of the past few weeks that sometimes in life we are simply expected to push, and when we don't see the fruits of said labor, we are tempted to simply give up thinking we have failed without seeing the changes and strengthening within ourselves. We cease to wait for the Lord to move the boulder while we strengthen and fortify ourselves. In Venta de Carpio, I began to feel that way; why was I pushing if nothing was happening? Then President shared this story with us, and I learned to hold on a little longer and wait for the miracle. And said miracle came and hit me like a ton of feathers (because a ton of bricks would hurt...). I mentioned last week that there were some investigators who had come to church due to friends' invitations. One of them was named Elena. She's 20 years old and is currently renting a room in the house of a recent convert. We went to visit her for the first time last week, and from the very first lesson, she accepted the baptismal invitation as well as a date for the 6th of February. We placed a return appointment and taught her the story of the Restoration. Upon mentioning the Book of Mormon and pulling one out of my backpack, a light shone in her eyes that I really hadn't ever seen in any other investigator before. She looked at that book like it was made of pure gold and that nothing in the world could be better. She held it in her hands for a second, awestruck that we would simply give her the book, and when she accepted the fact that it was hers, she held it tightly to her chest and looked absolutely delighted. She said she couldn't wait to start reading and that she would do so upon our leaving. She absolutely was the miracle Elder Davis and I had been waiting for... and then I got changed -_-
We received the email for changes yesterday afternoon, and the very first thing I saw was, "Elder Groesbeck -- Cambios". I packed up all my stuff and shipped off this morning for Pachuca to then head to Tezontepec... again. I'm now the zone leader in an area called Mixquiahuala in the zone I was in before Venta de Carpio. My other grandson, Elder Alder is still here, and I found out that he's actually training back in Presas! I have a great-grandson in the mission! My descendance is growing strong. We'll see how many generations I can come to see in this next year before I go home.
Anyways, everything appears to have been going well here in Mixquiahuala thus far, so I'll see if I can not screw it up. I may not have wanted to get changed, but if the Lord tells me to simply push on a different boulder, I'll keep doing so and wait for Him to move it.
Iré y haré,
As you may have guessed from the title of the email, this was a quite average week. Elder Davis and I continue dropping lots of investigators, finding new ones, and not having anyone go to church. I've grown rather tired of it, honestly, but there's not a whole lot more that we can do. We'll just keep working and see what happens.
The second part of the email title deals with a said exploding face. The face of whom, you may ask, was mine. Saturday night, Elder Davis and I returned to the house, planned, made some calls to the zone, and went off to bed, with nothing special happening. At approximately midnight (more or less; I'm not sure), I half woke up feeling rather nautious. I figured if I simply went back to bed, the feeling would go away. A few hours later, I half woke up again, with the same feeling, but I again pushed it off and went back to bed. At 4:30 in the morning (that time I checked the time), I couldn't hold it back any more. I ran off to the bathroom. The very second I lifted up the lid to the toilet, my face exploded. I'll try to explain this in the least graphic way I possibly can while still helping the reader to understand the extreme discomfort that this was. I could feel the varied contents of my stomach coming out of my nose, and I sincerely believe it would have come out my eyes had I not closed them. I could hardly breathe afterwards... and then it happened again... and again... I certainly hope you can imagine how incredibly uncomfortable it was without having to experience it. Ever. The next day, I simply had no strength whatsoever. I still managed to haul myself out of bed and to church, rather miserable the whole way, but I was able to do it! I figured if I wanted our investigators to get rid of their excuses and come to church, I couldn't let anything keep me from going. Heck, I even managed to play the piano when I got there. The sickness only lasted a day, but it was quite the long day...
In terms of the work for this week, we've been doing really well with our contacting and teaching; we're pretty much just waiting for a miracle to happen. That miracle may have happened this past Sunday, but we're not quite sure yet. I always thought said miracle would come in the form of knocking on the door of the most golden of all golden investigators, but I think it may have come in a slightly different form. We were sitting in sacrament meeting (I was feeling rather terrible) when the first councellor got up and gave a welcome to 2 different people that I had never seen before, and based on the way he gave said welcome, it sounded to me like they weren't members of the church. Upon ending sacrament meeting, a mixture of adrenaline and hope got me up and marching across the chapel to talk to those two sisters. I found out that they were indeed investigators that some members had invited to church! We couldn't talk much to them, but we have appointments to visit them this week. I certainly hope it goes well. As I said, this could just be the miracle we've waited for.
It's been an interesting experience these past few weeks waiting for a miracle, and sincerely hoping that those friends of the members in church are said miracle has really strenthened my testimony about the work of the Lord. He doesn't always respond in the way we are expecting or sometimes even in the way we want, but He does respond. In the words of Joesph Smith Sr. in The Restoration video, "The Lord answers in His own way and His own time, but He does answer." I've really come to know that that's true, and I'm extremely excited to see what happens in this coming week with them. Iré y haré.
Once again, I'm not sure who started praying for us again, but it's beginning to work. Don't stop! Actually, this week was a pretty great testimony builder for me about fasting; Elder Davis and I fasted last weekend that we'd have a better week, and we did :D
Norma was finally baptized! We still didn't have water in the chapel on Friday, so we combined the baptismal service with the elders in Heroes. We discovered on Saturday that there actually was water in the chapel, but it was a little late. Either way, she's continuing on her way now.
Elder Davis and I have also gotten a lot better at our street contacting abilities. According to Elder Davis, contacting in the street gives him "the willies," whatever that's supposed to mean. Therefore, we're working on getting rid of his willies. It's been going quite well. President has made us a promise that if we get 300 contacts in a month (contacting 10 people every day), we'll get 3 baptisms. Elder Davis and I have made the goal to test that promise by contacting a ton. Our street salesman skills are going up quite a bit. I'll be able to sell knives like a pro when I get back from the mission!
We've also been changing our focus to be up in The Hill more; everyone is like, "no! Don't go to The Hill! It's so dangerous!" But Elder Davis and I have yet to see anything bad up there; all of the times we've had bad/strange things happen to us (like be assaulted, almost get assaulted, and have strange drunk and/or drugged men ask us for drug money), it's happened down here below by our house. Therefore, we're going to go up to The Hill. There are so many really receptive people up there! We were up there contacting for like 2 hours, and a pretty large portion of the people we contacted were totally on-board to have us come back another day to teach them! It was awesome! Hopefully they're home when we go back. In the words of Flynn Rider, "I'm not gonna lie, that woud be stupendous."
Unfortunately, of all of the people that we invited to church and said wholeheartedly that they would be going, not a single one showed up... Even after we had a charla franca with a less-active family, they didn't show up. Oo! That's another fun story!
I think I've explained this before, but a charla franca is when we tell our investigators that don't progress that if they don't start complying with their commitments, we can't teach them anymore. We've been teaching a less-active family for about 2 months now, and they still have not gone to church; the mother of said family has made excuse after excuse as to why she doesn't feel ready to come back to the church, expressing constantly that she doesn't understand. I've wanted for quite some time now to completely rip her excuses to shreds and lay it down straight for her. And that's exactly what I got to do. Long story short, I said in the middle of the lesson, "that's why we've invited you to come to church time after time."
Then one of the daughters asked, "What happens when the people you teach don't come to church?" I then proceeded to explain what a charla franca was... while having a charla franca... It was one of the strangest things I've ever done in my mission, but it was strangely awesome. I then proceeded to invite them all to church again, and every single one of the daughters said yes. I then looked at the mother straight in the eyes and said, "and you, Sister?"
She gave me this sheepish smile like she thought I was kidding. I had mistakenly in the past given in to said smile and smiled back, but I was certainly not backing down this time. I knew what I needed to do, and I knew what she needed to hear and feel. She began with the excuses, and as we tore them down, she said, "it's just that you don't understand!" That's what I was waiting for. I felt so spiritually empowered (like, you have no idea) when I said, "No, Sister. We understand perfectly. You don't understand the blessings you're missing out on and the condemnation you are causing yourself by not going to church."
She still wouldn't give us a straight yes or no, so we ended with our testimonies and a prayer and left. I don't know that I've ever felt so spiritually comforted before than I did after that lesson. I was so stern with her, and I thought I would feel bad, but I knew afterwards that I told her exactly what the Lord wanted me to tell her, and it brought to mind something that President had taught me in an interview I had with him a few months ago.
President taught me that there is a line with every single person we teach. On one side of that line, they don't necessarily know or understand what it is they need to do. That is when we teach with a lot of love and pacience until they understand. Then they cross to the other side; the side of understanding. If they are on that side of the line and still don't do the things they know they need to do, that's when we learn from the example of Christ when he throws the tables out of the temple. We need to be very stern with them and let them know that they are losing blessings and only gaining condemnation as they don't do the things they have come to understand. I applied that teaching very directly in that lesson, and I knew it was exactly what I needed to do. She didn't go to church, which was her choice, and there's absolutely nothing more we can do.
This is a marvelous work. Sometimes it's a little hard, and sometimes it seems downright impossible, but with the Lord's help, it will progress. I confide in that promise and have dedicated two years of my life to it.
Iré y haré,
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