Well, it's been a great day and week, and thinks are, as always, only looking up. I'm a little pressed for time right now, so this might end up being shorter than usual; sorry about that. But, as always, the work calls...
This week was a good one. Elder Luna and I really got into the rhythm of working together. He's a good missionary. Very solid and dependable. He's showing me how to teach shorter lessons (every so often I wax eloquent while teaching, and sometimes that's good, but other times it's just better to bring the Spirit, teach the doctrine, and get out... so it's been cool to learn from his example of "short and sweet and to the point") and how to get a lot done. We still don't have any investigators with baptismal dates right now, but it's not for lack of trying, and we're teaching several people who we plan to invite this week, so things are going pretty good. We're also working on following the Spirit in every moment - a challenge Elder Jackson, the zone leader, gave us. It's turned out really cool. It means a lot of turning around when we're walking in the streets to go back and talk to a certain person, but when I come home at night I feel really content with the day's work and pleased with my efforts. The four of us in our house work hard all day - and have fun doing so - and then at night we relax and talk and have a good time. It's been a very good week and this week will only be better as we start to see more fruits for our labors and as we push ourselves even more.
On Tuesday we headed out to a little village that belongs to our ward called Dos Montes. We'd never been there before, but had some addresses of members and inactives and wanted to pay a visit. So we hop on a bus and the fare-collector lets us on for free because his son's a member (cool). Twenty-five minutes or so pass, and we realized we'd gone a little too far. So we disembark and talked to a man at a little roadside stand. He said it wasn't far. Turns out it was - seven kilometers, or almost five miles. We were pooped by the time we finally got there. The sun was hot and I was tired, but kind of cool to be out on our own and see the landscape a little more. Dad, I think it was you that asked last week if for my next area I'd like to stay in a city or go out into the villages and jungles and no-man's-land - I think I would rather the latter; it would be really interesting to have that kind of experience and be able to compare and contrast. But, then again, I do like the cities, and I still get to see the wildlife and everything, so either way would really be fine with me. Oh, and to close out the story - we arrive in Dos Montes, wander around for a bit, find a less active, go to her house (she was working) and talk to her and her family for a while, have an enjoyable and productive time, and then she paid the taxi fare back to Villahermosa. All in all, a pretty nice day.
As for investigators - still no luck with Hipólito, but we're not giving up; ditto with Rojer. That was some good advice you gave, Dad, about when receiving a new companion (or being one) in the area - it's important to not lose contact with the investigators and recent converts. So far it's gone pretty well, other than not being able to get in touch with those two, but it did take a bit more effort on my part, so that was good advice for me. I think I mentioned Yazmín last week - well, we taught her again and she seemed to be progressing well, but then when we showed up for the next appointment and politely told us that she wasn't interested anymore and was content with her own church. It reminded me of the story Jesse Manscill told about tears streaming down his face when something similar happened - I didn't cry or anything, but it was a pretty strong blow and I felt pretty bad for the next little while, just knowing the blessings and happiness she's missing out on. The reaction served to rededicate my efforts into being the best I can be so that people feel the Spirit and keep pursuing. I can't change people's agency, but I can remove all obstacles on my part to them feeling the Spirit and becoming converted. As I mentioned earlier, following the Spirit is something I've been focusing on, and it's really helped. We have a couple other investigators we're teaching right now and for them it's going well - we're hoping to have three or four baptismal dates set by the end of this week. We'll see what happens. :)
One last thing - I read the talks you sent, Dad, and absolutely loved them. I learned so much from them. I loved Elder Holland's talk and it motivated me to be even better and more pure and virtuous in my thoughts. I've learned so much about faith, repentance, obedience, patience, charity, and love. I've also been very humbled by my trials and seen the power of the Lord in helping me overcome them. Basically, the mission is a very cool thing. :)
Gabs!: Man, it sounds like you've had an awesome week! The ducks sound pretty cool. I see ducks almost every single day (sometimes I see them in people's houses or in the streets) and they're very cute. That reminds me - I saw a duck fighting a cat once. It was really funny. I think the duck would have won, but the cat ran away. Not something you see every day, huh? It reminded me of a cartoon. Seems like everything is going well. You've always been a ray of sunshine - always happy and always looking to cheer people up and have fun. Keep being that way! Keep having fun and being good. :) I love you a lot, Gabs. Have a great week!
Miranda: Man, that was a great talk! I'm working on translating it and going to give it the next time I have to talk in church! :) Haha. I really liked what you said about how on earth we will have "trials and adventures and opportunities to be great, show courage, and love and serve others." Later, you focused a little more on the adversity part of it, but I liked how in that part you chose exciting words, like adventures, courage, and being great. You made like sound pretty exciting - made me more excited for the opportunities I have! :) I think sometimes we focus on all the adversity and forget about the blessings. We need to enjoy the journey, not just the destination - and what you talked about helps us maintain that perspective. Very good stuff. I hope you have a wonderful week and that everything goes well. Remember that I love you very, very much! :) Adios!
Mom: Sounds like things have been going well this week. I laughed remembering Reagan and bowling - I hope he has a good time. Give him a hug (and perhaps a slap) from me. I'll let you know next week about thoughts on my birthday or what I need, and if I find out anything about the phone call. Oh, and you asked about our area. It's only about a mile by two miles. That's a rough guess. Not huge, but big enough to have a lot of people to talk to and teach. I like being here. Thanks for always letting me know how things are going and for all the love and support. I love you very much, Mom, and hope that you have an amazing week. Love you! :)
Dad: Funny about "the Justin Greer Machine". (Sometimes I do that in the mornings to psych myself up for getting into the freezing shower... not so much anymore now that it's heating up, though.) I really liked your comments about testimony and the comparison to Jesus. Pretty cool. Also, great advice about complimenting people. I'm going to put that into practice; I think it's definitely a good idea. Allergies are fine - occasional sneezing near hay or other plants, but not a problem. Shoes and clothes are fine so far. We have a meal schedule for each month and we eat with a different sister every day, but every week is the same. Mondays are Sister such-and-such, Tuesdays... etc. At night and in the mornings I eat cereal, eggs, toast, tacos... nothing fancy. I'll answer these questions more fully next week, and a few things I missed from last week - but have to run.
Equally, Dad, thanks for who you and and what you do. I'm having a blast and learning so much. Thanks for all the love, support, and the great example and friend you've been to me. I was going to ask if you could tell me some missionary stories from your own mission - ones I've heard and maybe some I've haven't. I think it would be interesting to be able to now relate more to them and compare and contrast and everything. Well, once again, more next week - thanks for everything. I love you very much. Have a wonderful week.
Everyone, I love you very much. Pictures next week - promise. Have a great week!