It's been a rather long week this week. I feel like the thought of my having changes and that it would be my last week here in Presas made it pretty long. With the majority of the new people we found, I thought, "well... Elder Gallegos will keep teaching them..." I began saying goodbye to everyone yesterday at church, thinking the whole time, "this will be really awkward if I don't have changes..." We got the call for changes this morning, and it turns out I do, so any potential awkwardness of not having changes has been successfully avoided. The ward is pretty bummed because now they won't have anyone to play the piano for them during sacrament meeting, but maybe it'll motivate someone to start learning the hymns so they can help the ward out. They enjoyed the piano for four and a half months, so I believe it's time for someone else to step up to the plate.
We had stake conference yesterday, and both President and Sister Egbert came. The coolest part was that Sister Egbert gave a talk! She doesn't speak a whole lot of Spanish (she's gotten a LOT better over the past few months), so when they announced that she would speak, I was super excited. She gets really nervous when she has to speak Spanish in front of people, so all of us missionaries in the conference were praying super hard for her. She nailed it.
Afterwards, Elder Gallegos and I were running around trying to see which investigators came to the conference (there were a TON of people there), and Sister Egbert called me over in the midst of the chaos.
"Is he ready?" she said in English.
"Yeah, is he good to train?"
"Oh yeah. He's more than good to train."
"Perfect. We're not sure yet, but President's thinking about having him train this cycle."
So... It's pretty much a 95% chance I'll have a second grandson in the mission tomorrow. Elder Gallegos is a champ, so he won't have any problems training. The genealogy I have in the mission will grow far and wide as I continue. Ah, the mission is grand.
Hermana Damiana, one of our recent converts here in Presas, gave us the best quote ever this week. She's a great grandmother of 80 years old who was baptized in September against the rest of her family's wishes. She told us the other day that she was talking to one of her sons on the phone and he said, "I heard that you've changed."
"It's not that I've changed," she said. "It's that I've grown closer to Heavenly Father." Ugh, she is the sweetest little old lady ever, and I shall miss her dearly.
I've reflected on what she said quite a few times, and it really is true. Yes, the gospel changes us, but the reason it changes us is because we grow closer to our Heavenly Father. We become more like Him. The light in our eyes will grow brighter, and others will be able to see it more clearly. They'll notice the change within us, and will often ask about it. When they do, we can simply reply, "I'm growing closer to God. Would you care to join me?" And then quickly give said referral to the missionaries ;)
It's so easy to be a missionary when we are examples of living what we believe. There is no need to fear or wonder what we should say. The Lord will give us the words. He promised to in Doctrine and Covenants 84:86. I have relied on that promise every day over the past 10 months, and the Lord will always come through for us if we come through for Him through small and simple means. Don't read your scriptures. Study them. Don't say your prayers. Pray. They're things so simple and yet so profound that we often take them for granted. Don't.
Iré y haré,
It's been quite the stressful week this week. For the past three weeks, we've had the prospective baptisms of Osiris and Ingrid, and they've failed us each week with a different excuse or reason for which they couldn't be baptized. When they didn't come to church last Sunday, we decided that we are effectively going to start over with them, teaching them everything from the beginning. The missionaries that were here in Presas before supposedly had taught "everything", but we realized they didn't know that basics of the gospel. Hence, we're starting over, and we placed their baptismal date for the 7th of November. I probably won't be here in Presas at that point, but we'll see what Elder Gallegos can do. We just finished up his week 11 where he had to take the initiative in everything, and he totally nailed it. He told me afterwards that it was pretty stressful at times, and I was like, "I told you!" He learned a lot, though, and that's the whole purpose of week 11 in the training of a new missionary.
I said this week was stressful more for the fact that the Garcia family began to grow doubtful about their baptism. They all had received a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, but their grandparents began telling them things like, "if you get baptized, you won't be part of our family anymore." Yeah, it was THAT bad. Needless to say, the children began growing quite fearful that they would lose their family upon being baptized. Fortunately, having gained their trust through the process of our teaching them, they expressed to us said doubts. My brain immediately started running through the scripture mastery scriptures I learned back in seminary, and through a quite powerful lesson, we were able to resolve their doubts, and everything came out just fine. I may not have been a super huge fan of seminary back in the day, but it sure has come in handy when I need to bust out a scripture or two.
In other news, I killed a tarantula the other day with Leticia, the flashlight-tazer that Elder Niro left for me. Elder Gallegos and I were helping a stranger move some dirt (yay service!) when I saw a semi-large and hairy tarantula next to my hand. Scared the Charles Dickins out o' me, that spider did. Fortunately, I had the ingenious idea to burn that sucker from the inside out with the awe-inspiring power of electricity. It was pretty great.
As for the spiritual side of things for this week, I will start with an experience. Yesterday (Sunday), we had a grand feast in the home of some members, and they had invited several families to eat with us. They cooked a large pile of meat and served it out. I was one of the last to go back for more, and I found, to my dismay, only a small piece of pork left. I went ahead and grabbed it, slightly disappointed, but I said nothing as to the dying whale still found in my stomache. When Elder Gallegos and I had finished (still hungry), one of the sisters of the ward walked past, whispered to us "wait just a minute, Elders," and walked out the door. A few minutes later, she walked back in with a bag of tortillas and cheese, obvious that she had just bought them from the store. She then asked us how we wanted our quesadillas to be made.
I was incredibly disappointed at what had just happened. Even after all the emphasis that the prophet and the apostles had placed on keeping the sabbath day holy, I still saw the same problem that has persisted since the beginning of time. I very frankly said, "The thing is, Sister Andrade, you just bought those on the Sabbath Day. Therefore, we won't eat them." Probably feeling a little bit bad, she went ahead and made them, serving a rather large pile on a plate and placing it in front of us, as if testing our resolve to not eat the condemnation that was the quesadillas.
We casually pushed the quesadillas in front of us and continued to share a quick message with the two young men at our same table. One of them was the son of Sister Andrade, and he said, "my mom told us that if it's for the missionaries, it's okay to buy things on Sunday." I haven't the slightest idea who has been preaching such apostacy, but Elder Gallegos and I made sure to clarify why that was certainly not the case. As we continued sharing, one of the men there at the party walked up, and held a quesadilla in front of my face.
"Elder, it's a quesadilla."
"Yes, hermano. Yes it is."
"You can go ahead and eat it."
"No, hermano. No I can't. This was purchased on the Sabbath Day."
He walked away, saying nothing more. After we had finished sharing with the young men, we said a quick prayer with them, told them not to eat the quesadillas, and walked out without an ounce of hunger or regret for what we had done. We were spilled spiritually for standing up for what we knew was right. It really was a great testimony builder for me, as it was always a little difficult for me back in high school to stand up firmly for my beliefs. I normally simply avoided the confrontation of the situation, but I certainly would not do it this time, especially when surrounded by people who knew the commandments and how to keep the Sabbath Day holy. It doesn't matter who we are, what we do, or in what circumstances we are found. If we know the commandments of God and have faith, we will keep them. Period. There is no if, and, or but. Keeping the commandments is the one and only way that we will recieve the blessings of the Lord. We know it, even if no one else does. Let us be examples to the believers, lights on a hill. Iré y haré.
This week has been quite stressful. We have some "eternigators" (investigators that for whatever reason just won't get baptized) that were finally going to be baptized this past weekend. Unfortunately, one of them had some... woman problems, and the other one neglected to tell us until Saturday morning that she needed to be in Pachuca the entire weekend. This is the 3rd time they've left us in the dust telling us that they're going to be baptized and don't come through. Elder Gallegos and I have decided we're going to start from scratch with them. There have been quite a few other missionaries that have been teaching them since about February, and they've been to church quite a few times. It has been brought to our attention, however, that they don't know some of the most basic elements of the gospel (for example, the Joseph Smith story and the restauration). At this point, their baptism would serve more for their condemnation than their salvation, and that is exactly the opposite of what we want. Therefore, we will start from scratch.
We're now entering into week 11 of Elder Gallegos's training, so he has to take the initiative in EVERYTHING for the week. I will simply be following him to make sure he can run the area and teach every lesson. I feel like he's already begun exercising a small amount of unrighteous dominion with his newly acquired authority, but I'll see if I can reel him in a bit and keep him on track. I want more grandchildren, darn it!
This past week, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) has been telling me I'll be a zone leader this coming cycle in two weeks. Last night, the Zone Leaders said that President Egbert, Sister Egbert, and the asistants all said it. I don't know if I believe them, but even less so, I don't know if I'm ready for such an assignment. I was just starting to get used to being a district leader! In accordance with what Dad sent me in his weekly email this week, we really never know where the Lord will need us to go or what He will need us to do. If He needs me to be rise to the challenge of a zone leader, I will do so, and I know He will help me the whole way through. I believe it will be rather similar to the changes meeting when I rose to be a district leader and trainer all at the same time. Such responsibilities (and I'll say challenges as well) have really helped me to come to realize my potential as a missionary and as a leader. I continue to realize said potential every day as I do the small and simple tasks that bring salvation to those around me. I know not what lies ahead, but I know there is light amid the darkness through the Lord guiding us all. As all of us confide in the Lord step by step, trusting that He will light the way before us, we will penetrate the darkness into the light that is Christ. There is no darkness so thick that the light cannot penetrate it. Iré y haré.
Was General Conference not the best this week!? There were some really great talks, and we had quite a few investigators come to the sessions. Due to the attendance of many of our investigators, we have 6 baptisms lined up for these next two weekends; two this Saturday, and four next Saturday. It's super great being able to work with families out here in the mission field, especially those as receptive as the Garcia family. They're so ready to be baptized! They couldn't come to church last weekend, but we still had to change their baptismal date. They were so sad when we had to push it back a week! They're the best! :D
In other news, Sunday was my birthday, and I had completely forgotten when I woke up. It wasn't until I got to church that I remembered. My conversation with a recent convert named Nadia went something like this:
-"Elder Groesbeck! ¡Felicidades!"
-"It's your birthday!"
-"Oh yeah! :D"
I had wondered why my back hurt so much in the morning and why I found lots of white hairs on my pillow. We had a really nice Family Home Evening with a sister in the ward, and my birthday present was a new investigator: her husband. He's done some pretty not-smart things in his life including having a second family with a woman he's not married to, but he supposedly called his wife the other day saying that he wants to change, and he seems willing to do so. He seemed to be a little bit drunk when we talked to him, but I feel like it may just be his personality to slur his words when he speaks... it may be a long and rather strange process teaching him, but we'll see how it goes.
Watching General Conference this weekend confirmed my dream to be a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Every time they sang, I felt the Spirit so strongly, and I want to be able to do that for other people. My voice isn't qutie there yet, but I feel like with some practice and a bit more maturity, I can be refined enough to audition and become one of them... when I'm old enough and have the time and funds sufficient to travel the world with them... We'll see how that goes.
I have to say that my favorite talk of General Conference was that of Elder Holland. That man is power, and I loved his dedication to the importance of the mothers of the world. I wholeheartedly testify of his words and am incredibly grateful for my mother and the incredible influence she has had on my life. Every time I play the piano for the members here in Presas, I think of her and her forcing me to continue practicing despite my resistance, promising me that I would thank her someday. I now do, and I don't hesitate to share the story with the members. When they ask me how I got my piano talent, I simply reply, "my mother." Thanks, Mommy! I miss you lots and love you even more!
And on that note, 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 :)