Family and Friends,
So the Christmas Season is upon us again. A time when Families are together (well most of them), People enjoy giving and sharing presents (if you are in North America), Snow is abundant and Hot Chocolate is delightful (Snow: Once again if you are in North America; yet I drink a lot of Hot Chocolate here), and there is an ever present feeling of love and warmth all around. It is the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year!"
Thought things are different: It is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year here in Cuenca, Ecuador as well.
So I forgot to mention that there were changes here in the mission a week back. Nothing changed in my house. We are still the same 4 Elders. In Cuenca we received a new Zone Leader and 2 New Missionaries: Elders Neilson and Romney. Both are great Elders.
We have been working hard but we have also been doing a lot more activities than normal. Christmas is a time to enjoy... and there are more ways to share the Gospel than knocking on doors (or ringing electronic computerized devices that make it all the more easy to say "sorry, I´m busy"). Anywho (good phrase from Christy) we went Caroling. Last night with many of the Young Adults here in Cuenca we went to the houses of the Less Actives and sang to them. They were so excited to see 15ish people that actually cared for them... singing to them... To finish off the night we went to the Bishop´s house (who also is a recent convert) and sang to him and his wife. His wife and neighbor cried when we started singing. Oh the Christmas Spirit.
Saturday we went on a ward activity to the mountains to have a "Paseo" or to say: Ward Barbaque. It was a ton of fun and the mountains of Ecuador are SO pretty. We had pork (something we can now eat) and a ton of Coke Cola. We did have a few investigators present but I highly doubt that any of them will actually progress. We did teach a "homestead" family. When we gave them the Book of Mormon we also gave them a bowl of pork. About a half our later they called us back to explain a few things about the Book. The husband was so excited to have the book (especially with the page that has the abbreviations for the Book of Mormon, Old Testament, New Testament, and D&C) that could help him understand the other scriptures God has given us. He said, "Look! It´s like a Light bulb... if you really want to see well you need 2... and now, if I understand what you are saying... I have 3!" He than asked for 3 Books of Mormon more. One for each of his daughters. Though they live FAR out of our sector... it was fun to teach someone a little bit about the Book of Mormon. They will be a great reference for Tarqui.
We are preparing the Familia Guaman for baptism. They were Hari Krishna... but now they are determined to be Latter-day Saints. Due to a few problems we had... they were unable to attend to the Ward Activity. I personally went with a member to pick them up. Due to a few hurtful words and actions on the part of alguin... Sister Guaman said that she would not be going to church nor the activity. I felt devastated. I watched as the 3 kids sat down to cry... and I about died. No!!! We had worked so hard to help the family... only to have a few words and actions destroy EVERYTHING. When I returned to the chapel I was not in a talking mood. I told my companion that we would not be going to the activity and that we had to go home and rethink. Unfortunately the members did not take my decision in a good manner... and we were carried off to the ward activity. I was in a silent mood until the aforementioned story when we shared the Book of Mormon with the "homestead" family.
When the activity was over my companion and I went home to pray. and pray. and then I started a fast (OK: I am not trying to puff myself up by telling you all I fasted. But sometimes it is what needs to be done). We had to gain Familia Guaman´s confidence again and we had no clue how we were going to do it. So we put everything into the Lord´s hands. We went to go contacting and had absolutely no success. Some funny contacts... but no success. We really didn´t talk much. We were both thinking of what we needed to say to Familia Guaman for we had planned to pass by their house later that night.
When it was finally time to pass by their house we stopped a block before and sat down to have another prayer. I dreaded the fact that I had to face the family again (Side Note: It was not something I said or did that made the family sad... I was just present) and I really didn´t want to talk or to look into their eyes. I personally feel that they lost all confidence in me (that´s what happens when you promise blessings... and then the blessings don´t come) and my calling as a missionary. When we knocked on the door all the kids came to greet us. When Sister Guaman arrived she was quite short in words with us. We tried to convince her to come to church with us the next day... and she said no. That she had to go to work and what. I put it all into my companions hands (I was still unable to make eye-contact). My companion began to talk... and talk... and talk. Neither he nor I remember what he said. But at the end she, with tears in her eyes explained to us that what had been done was now done... and that it had cut her to the soul... but that she would be going to church with us the next day. It was all a miracle The kids were super excited.
Needless to say they loved the Church. The members are so kind and gentle towards them. The Bishop had an interview with Sister Guaman and tonight we are going to confirm if they are going to be baptised this Saturday. There are still some major problems that are in our path... and we are going to depend on the Lord to help us resolve these insurmountable tasks. But He can do it. and He can help us. Sometimes we just have to put more trust in him. I personally learned that everyday I have to put the same trust in the Lord as I did Saturday. Really, I can´t do His work without Him. I really have a lot to improve and I feel like there is not enough time left to become the person I need to be.
Christmas is this Week!
I hope you all have filled your free weeks with fun activities with your families. It does not matter what the activity is... but you have to do things with your families. You will never know how important they are to you until you don´t get to do anything with them for 2 years.
I love you all so much.
I wish you a the Merriest of all your Christmases
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