This week has been quite the crazy week... Pretty normal in terms of the lessons we had, but crazy due to a particular situation. But first: backstory!
The Portillo family was baptized back in March with Elder Morales and I after we got them married. Soon after their baptism we learned that Natali, their 15-year-old cousin who had attended church a number of times with them was, in fact, not a member, and she visited them every weekend. We began teaching her, and she was rather receptive. Incredibly quiet, but receptive. We put a baptismal date, she came to church, but then she didn't, and then she did, and nothing was really super clear as to how she was with the gospel. We kept teaching her, and she was keeping the commandments and reading the Book of Mormon, so we thought, "all right, we just need to put a firm date on her, and we're good to go."
Last Sunday, thinking it would be my last, she came to church, and while there, she handed a folded piece of paper to Elder Morales. He started to open it before she interrupted him and said, "actually, it's for Elder Groesbeck..."
After church, slightly nervous as to what said paper might say, I opened it read it out loud with Elder Morales. To make a long story short and not give too many details, she basically confessed her love for me. Keep in mind we're talking about a 15-year-old girl here. I wasn't really too worried about it due to the fact that we were almost certain I would be changed, and I assume she wrote it under the same impression. Then changes happened; better said: for me, the lack of changed happened.
When Elder Espinoza got here, I told him about the situation, and we began making plans to basically tell her no... but to continue listening to us. I imagine you can see our dilemma considering Natali is 15 years old, but a really good investigator. We certainly didn't want to have to drop her, but we also didn't want her to convert to the gospel for any feelings she may have had towards me.
Natali visits the Portillos on the weekends, so on Saturday we put an appointment. In the appointment, we started with a prayer, and simply mentioned the fact that I read her letter. She was filled with so much... how do you say "pena" in english? Shame? I think that's how it is. Shame. She was so ashamed of it that she hid her face in her Book of Mormon and absolutely refused to talk to us. That's when Elder Espinoza became my hero. I'm still not sure how he did it, but he was able to get her to talk to him, and he explained the fact that I'm a missionary, that she's only fifteen years old, and that we wanted to continue teaching her.
At the end of it all, she refused our invitation to continue teaching her, saying that I "had broken her heart". She wouldn't even shake my hand goodbye. We left that lesson a little sad at what had happened, but at the same time, we really didn't feel like there was anything else we could do. We certainly couldn't continue teaching her, let alone baptize her, without addressing said feelings, but we had to respect her decision to not continue. We'll continue visiting the Portillo family, so we'll still see her. Maybe at some point she'll come around. Perhaps after I get changed...
And that's my funny/sad story of the week. Good to know I have a back-up to my back-up back-up... back-up plan. Elder Espinoza says that I'll only have to wait 6 months and 2 years. Triste payaso. Life and the work still go on, and we'll see what this next week holds for us.
Iré y haré,
P.S. I also learned that I have another great-grandson in the mission! :D
Here in Mixqui, all of the members are very interested in the mission cycles to know who has changes and where they're going. This past weekend was time to receive said changes. I had told everyone that it was much more likely that I left due to my 3 cycles and two companions that I had had here. Some were sad (or perhaps secretly excited, but who knows) and wished me well.
Yesterday afternoon, after much waiting and anticipation (and hitting the refresh button about a thousand times on my email inbox), the changes finally came. I opened the excel document from the email, and the first thing we saw was "Elder Morales - cambios; Elder Groesbeck - queda". For the white folk, "Elder Morales - changes; Elder Groesbeck - stays". I almost couldn't believe it; I had been preparing myself mentally for whatever the Lord had in store for me (if I was going to leave or stay), but I wasn't really expecting to stay! Upon thinking about it, though, it makes sense. After this cycle, President Egbert leaves, so he's moving all of the zone leaders with more time down so that President Kimball doesn't have to worry about putting up new zone leaders in the coming cycles; there were about 6 zone leaders that dropped down this cycle, Elder Morales being one of them.
My new companion is Elder Espinosa--a new zone leader, so I'm currently training him to fulfill our responsibilities. He's from Mexico City (really close by), and from what I've seen in these past few hours, he's a great missionary. Heck, President brought him up to a zone leader, so he's gotta be good. He's about to hit the year mark, making him my first companion (apart from my sons) who has less time than I do. Upon analyzing the list of zone leaders, I realized that I (with 2 others from my generation) have the most time in the mission field. Now I feel old... but not trunky!
In other news from this weekend:
Martha was baptized! Backstory time! She's been investigating the church for about a year and a half; her children are already members, but she was always looking for that answer to know that it was true. Elder Morales and I started visiting her and put a baptismal date for this weekend (the 21st). She agreed to the date despite the hundreds of other baptismal dates she's had, and we continued to teach her. Last weekend, he who was once known as Elder Clark (the tall white guy in the middle) returned to Mexico to visit some old wards. He walked into our sacrament meeting on Sunday, and she knew that she wanted him to baptize her. It was the answer she had been waiting for. When she told us that, we said, "Martha, if that's what you want for your baptism, we'll make it happen!" Long story short: we did, and it was an absolutely beautiful baptism.
Other news story from this weekend:
Marisol and her daughter Jaquelín were also baptized! That's right! It was a double baptism weekend! Lots of support from the ward in both baptismal services, and the spirit was very strong. There's quite the party in heaven for these ladies, and great good will come from their being members of the church.
And that's all the time we have for this week. I'll see if for next week I have some pictures with Elder Espinosa. Until then, iré y haré.
Well this week was pretty neat! First things first:
The San Juan family got baptized! It was an absolutely incredible service with lots of support from the ward; they're officially the first converts of the new Mixquiahuala ward, so everyone was there! I've never seen that baptismal room so full! When we weren't up front directing the meeting, we were out in the hall because every chair was filled. Yeah, it was pretty sweet. Just so you know, I haven't gained that much weight; the shirt is a little big and makes me look poofy.
I also took this picture:
But what I love most in it is a little closer up...
Aw, she's adorable! :D
We also have a number of baptisms coming up in these next couple of weeks; I think I've mentioned Porfirio before. Before we started teaching him, he smoked 10 to 15 cigarrettes daily. We taught him the word of wisdom, and he only smoked one in 2 days. We congratulated him and told him to make it zero so he could be baptized. He hasn't smoked since. He comes to church early every Sunday in his suit and tie, he participates in class, and he even pays his tithing. He's super excited for him baptism on the 28th.
We also have Marisol and Jaquelín for this coming weekend; they had some troubles attending church when the sisters visited them. With the ward split they became our investigators, and the first Sunday that they didn't attend church, we dropped them for a week. That really helped them understand the importance of attending church, and they haven't missed a Sunday since. Nailed it.
Funny story of the week: we knocked on a door looking for a contact we had made the other day, and a guy (mid 20s) answered and said, "I'm drunk and don't want anything." We told him we were looking for Ernestina, the old lady we had contacted there the other day. "No, she doesn't live here."
"...Hermano, we talked to her the other day. She said we could come back today at this time."
"No, she doesn't live here."
"Where does she live, then?"
You can imagine my surprise at that point. "Oh... did she pass away recently? We talked to her 2 days ago."
"No. She's dead. Go away now."
"Then who did we talk to 2 days ago?"
"The Holy Death! (It's the form of satan that some people worship down here) Now get off my property! Or would you like me to say it in English!?"
"Oh, really? You speak english?" (I said that in english)
He then proceeded to say a string of swear words in english that I will most certainly not repeat in this email, but the gist was that he wanted to fight with me.
In an act of utter boldness mixed with a dash of stupidity, I said, "let's see what you got, then!"
He proceeded to come down the front steps of his door as I thought, "Oh flip... what have I done?" and grabbed the helmet in my hands a little tighter, ready to use it for defensive purposes if necessary. He stood a few inches in front of me and began shouting broken/drunken english that I honestly didn't understand. He then walked around me out to the street and continued yelling at us to leave until we grabbed our bikes and walked off. I think he figured that he was drunk and there were three of us (we were with a young man), so there really wasn't any way he was going to win that fight. Morale of the story, don't pick fights with drunk people. Let them perish in their incredulity and hope that someday they come around.
That's all for today. I hope everyone has a wonderful week; changes are next week, so we'll see what happens there.
Iré y haré,
P.S. Here's a photo of me from the zone activity. I look a little creepy, but it's a funny photo.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day. I know my mom certainly did. I won't go into details of our skype call, but seriously, she's sooooooo trunky. "I miss you, I pray for you, you need to be here to play the piano, etc." I'll admit, it got me a little homesick as well, but mostly for my grand piano. I miss that black hunk of wood and strings. In terms of Elder Morales and his family, I'm pretty sure they put a family goal to make him as trunky as posible. Every time I could hear part of his skype call, someone was saying, "yeah, in 3 and a half months, you'll be able to ______!" So yeah, he's pretty trunky. But the work still continues here in Mixqui.
This week absolutely flew by; it was insane. I think it was because of all of the members that were coming with us every day. In the middle of the week when we realized we already had the standard of 15, we put a goal for 25 by the end of Saturday. Everything was going well to hit the goal until Humberto cancelled on us because he "didn't feel well". Triste Humberto. We only hit 24 due to his cancelation. We were not amused. 24 is still an excellent number, though.
We've got a number of baptisms lined up for these next few weeks; for lack of time on both ends of this email (writer and reader), I won't go into too many details. We have 3 for this weekend, 3 for next weekend, 1 for the weekend after, and potentially 1 for the weekend after. Mixed in with them are a few people who need to attend church more regularly and they can be baptized as well. Changes are in 2 weeks, and I'm not sure if I want to be changed or not... I'm preparing myself mentally for whatever happens. Mixquiahuala has been a wonderful experience, and I know it will continue to be so, but already having 3 cycles here (2 with Elder Morales), it's most likely that I'll be changed. Darn you, mission life! Ah well. I'll get over it.
Iré y haré,
P.S. Sorry for the short email. Please enjoy this picture of me with some parrots that I found while Elder Morales was Skyping. The one on the stick bites (hence, he's on the stick), but he also talks. He says, "hola", "¿cómo estás?", and "¡LALO!".
This week was pretty neat here in Mixquiahuala. I apologize if the title of my email fooled anyone; we didn't have any baptisms yet... But we do have quite a few lined up for the next couple of weeks! We have 3 that could potentially be for this coming weekend, but we have to talk to them seriously about the rest of their family. They want to be baptized with the other members of the family, but the rest haven't been going to church. Therefore, we'd have to wait until the middle of June to baptize them... I highly doubt that I'll be here in June, so we're going to see if we can't push them a little bit in our appointment tonight...
We also have Porfirio who is working on his addiction to smoking; he's had a habit recently (apparently due to stress) to smoke 10 cigarrettes a day. Yeah, that's a lot of stress. We taught him the word of wisdom, invited him to live it, and he agreed. In the next 2 days, he only smoked 1. I'd call that a major improvement going from 20 to 1. Although he improved, our rule here in the mission is that with an addiction such as smoking, he'll have to go 30 days without smoking at all in order to be baptized. it means I probably won't be here for his baptism, but it still gives me great joy knowing that I can help someone quite such a drastic addiction. Thus far he's gone a whole week without smoking. He's pretty awesome.
I felt like I learned something rather important this week as Elder Morales and I taught various lessons. I learned that the Spirit can touch other people's lives in our lessons, even if we don't necessarily feel it. Oddly enough, it happened twice this week that we were in a lesson that turned out exactly the opposite of how I thought they would turn out.
The first was with the San Juan family; we visited them with the Bishop and Relief Society President due to the abundance of less-actives in their home. Towards what we thought would be the end of our lesson, Alicia began to relate the tale of why she has been less-active; it was a very long story, she was crying, her daughter was crying, the Relief Sociey President was crying, and Elder Morales and I were panicking about the time we had been in the lesson and the fact that it was already 9:30. We somehow managed to interrupt her to talk about forgiveness and Jesus Christ. I felt the spark of the Spirit as I testified, but I had felt it many times before without the other person (investigator or otherwise) budging in their stance. Her tears immediately stopped, and she said, "yeah, we're gonna go to church this Sunday." Um... I'm fine with that... And yes, they went to church on Sunday. It was actually pretty cool to see how the Spirit worked so immediately in her.
The second happened with an investigator named Rosa María. Her son is a convert of almost a year, but she didn't ever feel ready to be baptized along with him. When the ward split, she became our investigator, and we started teaching her. On Friday we had an appointment, and we decided to talk very frankly about why she hadn't ever wanted to be baptized. The short answer: she didn't think she was ready. We invited her to prepare to be baptized on the 14th of May, and she answered with the same. We went on to prove to her that she indeed was ready. We told Elder Morales's story when he hadn't received not even a single lesson from the missionaries before he was baptized, and look at him now: a great missionary and a zone leader, not to mention an faithful member of the church. She then asked us, "I can't be baptized on the 14th... I'll be in Mexico (as in Mexico City). But I'll be here on the 13th."
"Okay... will you prepare yourself to be baptized on the 13th?"
"What time is the baptismal service?"
"Whatever time you want."
"Is 6:30 okay?"
"Absolutely... So... that's a yes?"
We left that lesson slightly confused, but again grateful that the Spirit worked in such a mysterious and marvelous way. She's been listening to the missionaries for over a year, and she finally decided that she wanted to be baptized for something so simple. As I said before, we certainly aren't complaining.
And that's my message for the day: that the Spirit works in very mysterious ways, but He does indeed work. We never know when He'll soften someone's heart and tell them exactly what it is they need to hear. Many times it won't have anything to do with what we say, but they'll know exactly what it is they need to know and what it is they need to do. Keep sharing the gospel. You never know who's ready.
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 :)