It was a good week, as is every week in the mission. (You always learn something worthwhile). But we didn´t teach as much as we would´ve liked. We used a lot of time moving the other missionaries in our ward into our apartment until they find a new apartment. It´s cramped and smelly but we get over it. They are both from Guatemala. I think I have mentioned this before, but never asked specifically, could you give me the names and addresses (approximate) of your cousins in Guatemala? Elder Velasquez, my old friend, goes home in April and lives pretty close to the temple, too. He said he´d like to visit them.
Another thing that took a lot of time was a conference with
Elder Francisco J. Viñas, a Spaniard who grew up in Uruguay. He's from
the Area Presidency, and it was a very very good conference--one of the
mission tours that Daniel mentioned in his mission a few weeks ago. My
zone did a special musical number, "Onward Christian Soldiers," which
turned out alright. I sang a solo, which was pretty nerve-wracking.
Elder Viñas talked about a lot of great things--teaching by the spirit,
preaching repentance to help people change. Everything was centered on
the Atonement. He shared a story I loved about a missionary who wanted
to go home a little early. When he had to interview the missionary, he
said "You probably think I am here to convince you to stay, but that´s
not what I am going to do. I just want to help you understand why you
want to go home. You may have your reasons, but it is really because you
don´t understand the Atonement. If you understood the Atonement, you
would understand why you have to continue in the mission. And if you
were to stay here, you would come to understand the Atonement more
fully." The missionary was intrigued, and--as you can guess--decided to
finish his mission.
He also mentioned what you said, that the mission isn´t ours.
He reminded us that we don´t baptize or teach anyone. I´ve heard that
before, but it was a powerful reminder. It´s no use counting your
baptisms and comparing numbers because I have little to do with the
success. Like you said, we are just instruments in the Lord´s hands.
Elder Viñas was very direct in everything he said, and used a lot of
memorized scriptures. He talked about the poor retention in Paraguay,
and told us we can´t baptize people who aren´t ready yet. He gave the
example of Ammon and Limhi. He wasn´t worried about what other people
thought, he did things the right way. That´s something this mission
could improve. We talk a lot about having faith and showing the people
they are ready and need to be baptized now, but sometimes we should give
them more time to prepare, especially if they don´t have a true desire
to endure to the end. So, as with all such conferences, we have a lot to
Speaking of retention, we have some members who are helping
Nila and Hugo learn to read. The youth of this ward are incredible. I
need to visit my converts more...it´s so hard to do so many things at
once. We are visiting the Centurions, whose dad is working here for a
few weeks. He went back to visit his wife this Sunday, but we´ll try teach him the importance of making time for church, too.
We also keep trying to help Santiago, and one thing that will
help is his brother Andrés, who seems very interested in learning about
Christ and the Bible. He promised to bring his whole family to church
(he is already married) next week, and we are hoping that his baptism
will encourage Sara to consent to be married so Santiago can get
We also have a new investigator named S. She is very
interesting, haha. She is a 38-year-old grandma who contacted (yelled
could be the word) us in the street. She wanted someone to help her quit
smoking, which we are doing. She has had lots of problems in her life,
many of which continue--like bipolarity. Elder Viñas said we should only
teach people with the desire to change who will contribute to the
church. She has a desire to change...but we are trying to help her
contribute. She came to church and made a lot of inappropriate comments
in the classes. At least the members know who she is now, and I hope
they will be patient. I keep finding scriptures in the Book of Mormon
like Alma 6:5, which say that we can´t exclude anyone from participating
in the gospel. We just have to tell her frankly what she can and can´t
do, and with lots of prayer, God can work his miracles. She really needs
help, so let´s hope she changes soon.
I almost forgot to mention the baptism. I hope you can
tell who everyone is from the picture, like my new companion and
Mercedes, who is in white. This got the ball rolling, so we should be on
our way to help other people re-record or redo their baptism so that
the church records can be up-to-date.
Let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks for all the news. Love you all!
-Elder Morgan the Older