Thursday, December 29, 2011

Weekly Letter: November 29-December 5, 2011

para mi familia:

I guess I´ve been a rebel before now. My president has always told us to count the days we have left in our mission from the very start, with hopes that we will work every day out to its extreme. I´ve always been too lazy to count them. It is only now that I have just completely 22 months in the mission that I realize that counting the days would not be a taxing effort....but it is not something that I want to do all the same. Next week maybe I´ll repent and tell you the day-count...but I feel uncomfortable doing so now.

This week has been one of my hardest in the mission, but with it comes a lot of promise for this and the coming weeks. It seems like God is always having me make adjustments in the way I work, and I always seem to go too far and have to make the adjustments over again. I feel like I´m working harder than I ever had, but we´re not having the fruits that we desire. This is maybe the last week that my companion is here in Mexico (he signed his Argentine visa last week.). I really feel that I have been an inadequate trainer. He talked to the president about some issues that he felt he hadn´t resolved.The president assured him of his worthiness and sent us on our way. Then, he starts to feel bad because he doesn´t feel the spirit, and hurls all the teaching on me. He´s a great missionary with several of the feelings that many missionaries have when they first start out, but he refuses to be consoled.

I don´t know. It was a really rough week....a really humbling week. I realized this week that I don´t have all the answers. (I bet you all are thinking, "well duh!") I realized that I like to have control over the situations. I realized that I don´t want this missionary to take a year and half like I did fighting to do what the Lord wants instead of what I want to do, when submitting to the Lord´s will really is the much easier way. (I´m still struggling with the personal sanctification, but it really does help.)

We had a great meeting with Elder Johnson this week. It was very humbling hearing what he had to say to us. I felt that I had more or less an idea of how to work in the mission. But I realized after the reunion with him that I had been working wrong. We are here to find the people that are already ready for the gospel....we are not to be working constantly with people that are nice enough to open the doors and listen to us, but really aren´t willing to make the changes in their lives. He fundamentalized the form in which we should contact the people. We are not here to sell the gospel, anyone in any church can do that. We are here to testify.

We had such an experience with Esmeralda last night. Getting there, we were talking, and I felt that we weren´t getting anywhere, that we were just going in circles around the question of baptism. We decided to talk about obedience, and then we talked about the first commandment. It was good up until the point we started talking about baptism. She started shutting herself to the conversation, and suddenly I realized that I was testifying and my companion gave some testimony, but then would immediately give me back the word. It was not like him. I felt like suddenly I was alone. Finally she started to open up to us, and she described that her mother and several family members haven´t really been saying things, but have implied their disdain for the decision to go to our church. I don´t know how much I believe her about her mom, because she seems much more open than Esmeralda (and she had a vision that had many temple connections!), but finally she was starting to open to us. We extended the invitation that she pray and ask what the Lord wanted, and then to make the decision based on that. She did not want to say the closing prayer, but we told her that it would help her more than our prayer in her behalf. Finally she consented, and she was crying at the end of the prayer. We left her house reminding her to always remember what she was feeling and to make the decision quickly. She is going to be praying all this week...and I hope to be able to help her.

After the appointment my companion got a little annoyed because he said that I was trying to pressure her, and that I got her to cry. It made me think about a lot of the things I was saying...but I know that I was just focused on testifying. I don´t remember how many times I told her "I know that Jesus wants you to get baptized, but don´t believe me, ask him yourself." and then "I know that you felt the spirit in the church, but pray to him for the courage to act on what you felt like you had to do in the baptismal service." I literally cannot remember me trying to push her to was all question based. She was doing most of the talking. My companion had mentioned some bad habits that I had in interrupting people, but this time I was specifically focused on listening and not talking. I tried to explain it to him, but I couldn´t find the right words. I couldn´t explain what was happening without feeling like I was being presumptuous our full of myself. The truth is that I was not pressuring her, the words I was saying would have had absolutely no influence on anyone else or in any different moment. I think his problem isn´t that he doesn´t feel the spirit, but that he doesn´t recognize it. (which is something that we have to learn throughout the mission and our life) I love him so much, and I desperately want him to know what he has to do...but I feel inadequate in teaching him.

Well, I´ve vented quite a bit. I love you all. Don´t think that my companion is not a good missionary. I had the same feelings at the beginning of my mission, and I´m sure I am not the only one...I feel that he is simply one of the few that admits it openly. Please pray for me and for him. Pray for his family, and pray for our investigators, because many are at the point where they can say either yes or no. They know it´s true, and for that I so desperately hope they say yes....because if they say no, it´s going to be a lot harder to say yes in the future.


Elder Blackham.

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