As you may have guessed by the subject line of my email, it was quite the week this week. There wasn't a whole lot too interesting within the week, but yesterday (Sunday) was pretty crazy. First, it requires some backstory. As I mentioned before, the ward split 2 weeks ago, changing the boundaries or our area. We gave some of our area to the sister missionaries, and they gave a rather large portion to us. There was a less-active family that the sisters had been teaching that they then tried to pass to us, but when we introduced ourselves, they absolutely refused a visit from us. We tried to insist, but they were oddly firm in their decision. They have a slight mental disability (I think it may be a mild form of autism, but I'm not really sure), so when we explained that the sisters were no longer allowed to visit them, they went a little bit crazy. Last Sunday, they followed them for like 2 hours in the evening, waiting outside of their appointments and continuing on their same path when they left the house. The sisters told us about this, and we didn't really think a whole lot of it. To give them some reassurance, we simply told them to let us know if it continued to happen.
Everything seemed pretty normal during the week; nothing out of the usual that the sisters reported... until the following Sunday (yesterday) came. We had just finished a lesson and were walking out when our phone rang. I took one look at the phone, saw "Mixqui 2" (the sisters) and knew what was up. Supposedly the sisters had returned to their house to use the bathroom, and when they went to leave, the two... we'll go ahead and call them stalkers for what I will explain momentarily--were there outside. Thinking quickly, Hermana Rojas said, "I forgot my book..." and they went back into the house to call us.
When we arrived they were waiting down at the corner a good 50 meters from the house. We made the executive decision to cancel our appointment for the evening and accompany the sisters to theirs just to make sure everything was all right. As we walked, Hermana Rojas told me that it had happened a few times in the last week that they returned home and said stalkers were simply there waiting for them between 9 and 9:30. Therefore we shall refer to them as stalkers. We arrived at the appointment just fine (they didn't follow us), so we waited outside for them and all walked back.
Upon arriving at their house, I saw a small head peek around the corner, see us, and immediately retreat. I knew who it was. "Wait here, hermanas. Elder Morales, follow me." Now, you have to understand that this is something I've never in my life done; confront a stalker as I was about to do at this moment, but due to who-knows-what (righteous anger, perhaps), and had absolutely no reservations. As we rounded the corner, they began to walk the other way. We flagged them down, and the conversation went something like this.
"¡Hola, Hermanas! What are you doing over here?"
"We're just... waiting for a friend..."
"Oh, really? Do you think your friend could use a message of the gospel? Where does she live?"
"...she doesn't live around here..."
"What's her name? Maybe we know her."
"no... you don't know her."
"Oh, okay. And what were you doing at the corner on the other side of the street an hour ago?"
"...the chain on the bike fell off, so we had to wait."
At that point, I got tired of them lying, so we went in to burn the bush.
"Why are you following the sister missionaries?"
Rather taken aback, they denied.
"Don't lie to us, hermanas. We know you're following them, and they know it, too. Quite frankly, you're scaring them, so we are going to ask you to stop."
"We're not following them. It's a free street, we can walk where we want."
"Hermanas, we know you're lying to us. You're always there behind them no matter how far away from your house they go."
"...No... It's a free street..."
"Stop following them. We don't want any problems, and if you continue to follow them, they will tell us and we'll have problems. They'll take the sisters out and you'll never see them again."
After further denial, we wished them a good night, and rounded the corner to tell the sisters what happened. After they entered the house, we simply returned to the corner to sit and make sure they left. They simply sat there about 20 yards away as if waiting for us to leave first. It was already 9:30, so we let President know we weren't home and why, he gave us the okay, and we began to plan for the following day. We're still not sure what they were waiting for, but after about 45 minutes, they got up and began to walk up the street, in the opposite direction of their house. We decided to leave, and as we passed them on our bikes, we simply said, "Go home, hermanas. It's late." They yelled something at us (probably some swear words, but I didn't hear), and we returned home.
I pondered repeatedly that night about this experience and about how it was something completely out of the normal for me to do. I wondered exactly why I did it and even more I wondered why I didn't have any reservations or feel nervous about the decision to do so. This experience helped me to realize that I'm actually a very protective person when it comes to the people and things that I care about. I recalled various experiences when I had protected a friend or family member from whatever influence, and I related it to the gospel. Do we care enough about the gospel to defend it from any influence? Are we willing to give anything to live it? If not, we have some soul-searching and faith-building to do.
I love this gospel, I know it's true, and I love the Lord's work.
Iré y haré,
This week I experienced for the second time what it's like to open half an area, and I'll tell you what, it's some hard work. Lots of contacting while trying to find the old investigators of the sisters. With the ward split, we gave them a very small part of our area, and they gave us a rather large chunk. I feel a little bad about the exchange, but they're on foot, so they don't need as much area. Just about the same thing is happening now as what happened in Valle Dorado my 3rd cycle; we've ditched the majority of our investigators over here (they weren't progressing anyway), and have been focusing principally on the new area to see how we can exploit it. The sisters had some pretty good investigators, but there are quite a few that make us wonder exactly what they were teaching...
We found one investigator last week who is the mother of a part-member family. All of her children are members, but she was never baptized due to her addiction to coffee. In the first visit, we simply got to know her and the 2 children that live with her. She told us about all of the missionaries that had visited her over the course of the past 3 or so years and how much she loves coffee. She sells it in her store, so it's a little hard to simply get rid of it. After finding out her need, we felt impressed to teach the word of wisdom, despite us being sure she'd heard it some thousand times. We shared it with her in a very direct manner, explaining the blessings we receive for keeping it and taking care of our bodies, and the lack of blessings (and even condemnation) we receive for not keeping it. We then said, "Martha, in order to receive these blessings of health and strength, will you live the Word of Wisdom and give up coffee?" I was almost certain that she would give some sort of pretext or say no. Really I was expecting anything other than what came after a few moments of silence. "Yes, I'll live the Word of Wisdom." Obviously we'll be giving quite a bit of followup in these next couple of days/weeks to make sure she stays off of it so she can be baptized, but needless to say, we're pretty darn happy with her decision to give it up.
That was the incredibly spiritual part of this week. The funny part of this week is what happened almost immediately afterwards. Her daughter of about 20 years old (who is a member) asked us how she could stop saying swear words. We began asking some questions about the influences in her life (mostly music), and she began to justify her habit of swearing at people who offend her and lots of other things that really didn't make much sense. I thought, "All right, Yami, if you want me to bring the hammer down, I'll bring it down."
And brought down said hammer certainly was. I busted out all sorts of General Conference quotes, personal experiences, scriptures, etc to absolutley blow her mind with the reasons why she should stop swearing, delete the music off of her MP3 that conduces that sort of environment, and turn the other cheek when other people go off at her. As she continued to justify herself, I simply asked, "Yami, is that what Jesus Christ would do?" The "conversation" that followed went something like this:
"But it's that--"
"Yes or no?"
"Yes or no?"
"Let me talk!"
"I'm letting you talk. Answer yes or no."
"If Jesus Christ wouldn't do it, then we shouldn't either."
"But we're not perfect!"
"You're right, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try."
"Sincerely, Yami, you know we're right and you won't win this discussion. This is the first step of your letting go of swear words. You're going to let this argument go, breathe, and choose to be happy rather than choose to be right. Will you stop swearing?"
"...yes, I'll stop swearing."
"Good. As you said, we aren't perfect, and we don't expect you to be at this time. We'll be verifying your progress with you, and your mother and brother won't let you lie."
I left Elder Morales in the dust with that one, and after the lesson he said, "I almost felt the love in that scolding you gave her... Almost..." Hey, it worked, and if she stopped swearing by talking that directly with her, I have no regrets. We're still having a pretty good laugh about it.
And that's pretty much it for this week. We'll see what adventures await in the next 7 days; we have leadership council and zone training coming up, so we'll see how those go.
Iré y haré,
P.S. Sorry there are no pictures this week. Elder Morales and I have to think of some more crazy stuff to do...
et another cycle has come and passed in the Mission Mexico Pachuca even faster than all the last. I have no clue what to do with the time passing so quickly. I suppose that's the mission life, though. Mothers' Day is right around the corner, and Christmas will be here in no time at all! But I'm not trunky!
As the cycles pass, so do the changes... but this time I wasn't changed! Elder Morales is officially my first companion apart from my trainer and children that I've had for more than 1 cycle. It's gonna be a fun second cycle together. We have so much planned for the zone! :D
Together with the changes we also had our entire ward split yesterday (sunday). We're still part of the Mixquiahuala ward, but our area just got much bigger, and our sunday meetings are now at 8 in the morning. That's not so bad for us personally, but it means that it'll be even harder to get our investigators to wake up in the morning to go to church. That's how it was in my first area, and yes, it was quite difficult to get people to come to church. We'll see how things go here.
In terms of investigators, the entire Familia San Juan came to church! I don't remember if I already explained about them, but the grandparents of said family are members as of quite some time ago. Three of their four children are also members, but the wives of their children and their grandchildren have never been to church before or even really heard about the gospel. We found them out of what some might call luck, but we call the Lord working in mysterious ways. We were totally lost looking for a reference in the middle of nowhere in our area. I saw a small little street leading off the main-ish road and thought, "maybe it's down that way..." We headed down, passed a couple of houses, and almost to the end we heard someone say, "Hermanos! What are you looking for?" I thought, "is it that obvious that we're lost...?" After giving their best effort to help us, Hermano Nasario said, "Hey... can you guys come in and bless our house?" You can imagine what happened next. We started teaching them a lot more regularly, and this Sunday they showed up to church. Five new baptismal dates set right there. It is for that reason specifically that I certainly did NOT want to be changed. This time, President decided to comply with my wishes.
And that's about everything that's happening out here at this point. My studies of the scriptures have gotten far more intense seeing as it has taken me about a week to read the first 3 verses of 1 Nephi 1. Yeah, there are that many of God's mysteries contained in every verse. My scriptures are going to be so full of notes and colors when I finish with them! I'll probably take a picture for next week. Until then, iré y haré.
Wow, what a crazy weekend! Like oh my goodness. Before getting to that, enjoy some photos that Elder Morales and I took this morning. I'll just say they were the best 200 pesos I've ever spent.
Okay, now on to the crazy stuff of this week... Well, it was pretty much Saturday. Normally on Saturdays we take reports in the morning during our study time and then send them to the assistants right afterwards. With General Conference, however, we had to change our schedule around a little bit to take some reports before and some after the first session to send them in all nice and neat. Everything went well for the first little while; we got two of our three reports taken before the first session and then watched conference for two hours. At about 12:15 (15 minutes after the first session started), we were on the computer of the offices in the chapel to send the reports in when the internet went out. "Well that's funny," I thought. "It'll probably come back on shortly," and I continued prepping the reports. To make a long story short, it didn't come back on. In fact, internet in the entire city of Mixquiahuala went completely out along with phone service and wifi. Therefore, we couldn't call anyone, we couldn't send reports in, and (that's right) we couldn't watch the Saturday afternoon session of conference.
After much stress and slight panic, we figured out a plan to get everything in order and all figured out with the hopes that later in the evening (after priesthood session) we'd be able to come back and the internet would be on. We were wrong. Upon returning to Mixquiahuala, the internet was still out, so we had the idea to run down to Progreso (about 15 minutes away) to see if they had internet. Nope. The bishop pretty much saved our lives by finding us a member semi-nearby who had working internet so we could take the last reports in like 10 minutes (incredibly fast for the reports of an entire district) and send them in. We still didn't get home on time (don't worry, we told President), but we get everything taken care of by the end of the night.
The next day the internet was working, so we got to watch conference normally :D
Speaking of conference, was it not the best!? Better than Super Bowl weekend, I'll tell you what! It could have been because it was the only session I was able to watch in English, but I enjoyed the Priesthood session most. There were quite a few talks that hit me pretty hard in that hour and a half. I also felt like President Monson's talks were rather shortened in all the sessions, but in the few words he said, he said them well and to the point.
With everything heard and meditated on in General Conference, I feel like something big is coming, so prepare yourselves. There is much to do and little time to do it. The night cometh soon.
Iré y haré,
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This blog is edited by Elder Groesbeck's amazing, beautiful, younger sister Aubrie. I will post any update I get. Enjoy :)