Subject: Well hello family!!
Ok...so mom you asked what things I need! :) I actually just got socks from Grandma Shaw today!! (THANK YOU!!!) That should cover me for a while there...as far as food, peanut butter would be great! It´s super expensive down here. Other things could be american chocolate, and nuts. I miss nuts...kinda a weird thing, but I do! I´ve been saving some of the nuts Grandma sent in her package during Christmas...but I think I have to eat them today! Oh! Another thing that would be nice, yet I know expensive, is a thumb drive. A lot of elders have them, and it just makes it easier to rip pictures off of their cameras.
Btw, the picture of me in the fire is from Elder Foutz´s camera. Pretty sweet huh? Guess Abinadi and I have something in common. ;) haha, but that was a ward activity that we had last thursday. It turned out great! We had quite a few investigators come, and it was just a great time to get to hang out with everyone.
Oh! Before I forget this...I need a shout out to Tosha! Someone can find her facebook or something...that would be sweet. I just got her email so I can finally write her. Tell her I´ll be sending a letter soon, now that I finally have her new address! I did get her letter a while back, but it didn´t have her address...anyway, I just want to make sure she knows.
Dad...nope, those girls weren´t prostitutes. Yes, they are here, but they´re just really crazy. We say hi, but I doubt we´ll go back again. They´re just not really interested in the lessons, ya know?
Ok...so this week was INCREDIBLE. This week really showed me why being a missionary is so incredible!! It started off pretty intense...running back and forth to Talara like three times because we´re having money problems (still short 30 soles) and trying to take all of our water buckets back. Oh! Haha, we´ve had water for almost a week and a half now!!! Can´t tell you how happy that makes me!!!
With our investigators, I can´t tell you how incredibly happy I feel! On Thursday, we decided to do a companion exchange. At first, I was hesitant because it was Elder McDonough and I and we had an appointment with Jair, our main investigator. But I think it was inspired. Being with Elder McDonough, we both had to really try our best with the language. It was a great learning experience. The lesson with Jair I guess was really incredible! They talked about receiving your answer through the holy ghost, and they had their first kneeling prayer with him. I guess he chocked up in the middle of the prayer and just said amen really quick. Elder Foutz asked him if he felt anything, and all he said was. Yes, good. Anyway, we went back the next day.
That day was one of the best days of my life!!! In the morning, we got 3 new investigators. Then in the afternoon, we were walking down the street and I got the prompting to go to one of the members houses that we had challenged to get a reference for us. When we walked up, she had visiting teachers! That was a miracle in itself! Also, there was a non member there! We got in, and she had questions, so we started a lesson on the Restoration. Our lesson actually was pretty horrible...but then we asked Sister Poly to bear her testimony of how she found out the church was true.
She went off on her little story. It was LONG. But towards the end, she talked about how missionaries came and she had one question for them: what happens with my kids after they die? What if they don´t receive baptism on earth? Well, obviously the answer is the temple...and the missionaries took a while to decide before they told her. The thing is, that got her right then. We have temple work that can help seal us for eternity. She was baptized two weeks later.
Of course, sharing this story with a non member right there is really confusing, especially the part about the temple. Thankfully, God was in charge of the lesson, and not us missionaries. She has 7 children. All 7 of them have died, and so has her husband. She´s living alone in Talara, and is really sad because of it. The temple is the message she needed. The spirit was SO strong during that lesson, and I know that the Holy Ghost prompted me just so we could ask Hermana Poly to bear her testimony.
Right after that, we had our lesson with Jair. Initially, it started off kind of bad. His aunt was there, and started asking us questions-pretty accusingly-about the Sabbath day. We started answering, but it wasn´t getting better, so I stopped it and said we´d like to teach more, but asked if we can start with a prayer. She said ok, and by that time, Jair and Cindy-his sister-were ready too, so we began.
Immediately after the prayer, things went smoothly. We started talking more about the blessings of going to church, and the spirit was there. For some reason, I was prompted to talk about the Sacrament, and I went off a little bit-not really knowing what I was saying, but the spirit kept going through me. I turned it over to the baptismal covenant and how we renew it every week, and can have the same cleansing effect every week. Then the focus went to Jair. Instead of answering his aunt´s questions, I was teaching him. I begin to feel the spirit just completely overwhelm the room. When I finished, Elder Turcios just kept the spirit going, and eventually we got to asking him again about if he had received his answer. We asked if he was feeling the spirit right then. He looked us in the eyes and said yes, and that he wanted to be baptized. He bore his testimony that he knows Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that this is the true church, with power and conviction in his eyes!! Then his mother interrupted...
She told him to be honest, and tell us that he needed another week. The spirit started to leave. I asked him why he felt he needed another week and he explained that he was leaving for school soon, and he would be living with his dad. His dad is not a member, and he´s scared that he won´t have the support system, which is true. He also talked about how he´s worried about his mom being alone, because Cindy will go with him too. He said he does need another week.
Then the spirit prompted me to talk about you, mom. I looked him in the eyes and started telling him how you were converted. How you had to leave your family, whom you loved, because of the things that happened. I then shared Mosiah 4:9 which talks about how we need to believe in God because we can´t comprehend everything He does. I started to cry as I told him how you didn´t know the effects of the decision to be baptized. You didn´t know that one day, you would be married to dad, and have five children in the church. I told him that he´s doing the same thing. This decision will effect him the rest of his life, and he doesn´t know the effects right now. I told him to believe in God, and take this step, because he knows the answer.
The spirit was so incredibly powerful in that moment, I felt it all through my body. I know everyone present did too. Unfortunately, he didn´t change his mind, and the baptismal date is set for the 22nd. That just means there is more time for Satan to fight, so we´ll have to work hard this week with him too. However, I will never forget that experience, and I trust that he won´t either. Another amazing thing is that his aunt, Judy, felt the spirit there too. During the prayer, Jair stated that he knows the church is true. Judy asked us how she can know this church is true too. I have a feeling that she has a real chance in finding the truth too! We´re excited to get going with her.
After that experience, I just can´t tell you how grateful I am to be here. A missionary. This is the most exhausting work ever. Mentally, Physically, Emotionally, Spiritually. Every night, I have to fight to stay awake during lessons, but it´s worth it. It is so worth it! I know this gospel is true, and the spirit is the best thing in the entire world. To feel it speaking through you, showing other people, choice sons and daughters of God, that God loves them. That He has organized His church in the earth again today...it´s just an indescribable joy.
When we left that lesson, we were in a spiritual high for almost an hour. I just couldn´t stop smiling! Even now, I feel the spirit burning in my heart, bearing witness that that was a real experience. I´m looking forward to many more like them.
I hope you all know how much I love you. Thank you for your support, and the letters truely are amazing! I got the one from Corinne with the pictures today! It was cool to see everyone with Christmas pj´s!! I love you all!!!