Monday, May 12, 2014

2014-05-12 all that really matters

Hey Everyone,
This was another good week.  This cambio has flown by.  There is less than a week left.
Elder Van Horn and me with an American flag in Potosì because we are Americans in Potosì.
This week we met a blind guy and helped him get where he was going.  When we got him to the building where he needed to be, my companion started talking to him a little bit about the church and asked him if he could read with his hands.  He said, "yes" and my companion pulled out a pamphlet and handed it to him and asked him to read it.  He felt all over the pamphlet and couldn't read anything.  My companion, starting to realize that it would be pretty much impossible to read something printed in ink, guided his hand to his plaque and asked him to read that.  The blind man said something like, "Well I can feel something but this isn't braille."  To top it off, my companion wraps up by saying something like, "Ok, well it's a beautiful pamphlet we have."  I couldn't control my laughter.  The blind man seemed like a pretty smart guy and it seemed like he got a kick out of it too.  We did get the guy's information though, so the missionaries can go visit him because he doesn't live in our ward.

We had a great lesson with Hermana Nelly (mom) and Selina this week.  They both say God has answered their prayers that the church is true and they accepted baptismal dates.  The mom said something about wanting the whole family to get baptized together so she said she is going to work hard at getting a time for us to talk to her husband who is almost never home.  If we get permission from our leaders, then this next month we are going to go with them to a little village about 3 hours outside of Potosì to where Nelly's very old parents live to help them harvest potatoes and turn them into chuño.  The entire family is awesome and the kids always come to all the activities at the church.  The only hard part is we cannot find the dad to talk to him.  
the grandma there saw that I was burning and gave me the hat to wear
We also had a day of service with the Benavidez family.  They are building more rooms behind their house. We went and helped mix cement and pass it in buckets up to the 2nd floor of what they are building. We passed buckets of cement for over 4 hours.  Even small buckets of cement are ridiculously heavy. When we were done, they made us a barbecue.  We ate oka with it which is similar to a sweet potato but I like it better.  It was sunny, rainy, and hailed during the 4 hours we worked.
the 4 missionaries and Benavidez family kids after the service project
Last Monday, I left my wallet in a taxi and didn't notice until the taxi was gone.  Between my companion and I, we remembered that the taxi was white.  Since I didn't remember anything else to help me find the taxi, I was pretty worried about how I was going to get it back.  Especially since it had all my money, my mission and personal debit cards, and my Bolivian and US IDs.  I said a prayer and immediately knew the taxi would come back if I just waited on the street corner.  That was a relieving feeling.  We sat down and 10 minutes later the taxi was back and the driver waved me over and handed me my wallet.  That was a good prayer experience. Praying makes things happen.

While I was talking to my family yesterday, I mentioned how I feel so bad for so many people here.  And I do. I grew up with so many advantages that these people don't have.  I never experienced trials anything like what so many of the people here face.  I've always gone to good schools, had both of my parents, had money for what I need.  I've never had serious health issues, never had to worry about what I'd eat or where I'd sleep.  It makes me so grateful for my wonderful life.

My mom asked, "Aren't they happy though?"  It got me thinking last night.  Some people are and others aren't. Just like the people back at home.  Meeting so many people and seeing which are happy and which aren't has taught me two important things:

One is that relationships with other people has a far greater influence on happiness than anything material.  A united, loving family is happy with no money, living in a one room concrete hut with one bed for every 3 people. It impresses me.

The other thing I learned is that personal worthiness is a huge determiner in happiness.  A guilty conscience destroys anyone's ability to be happy.  A certainty of personal worthiness, together with an understanding of the gospel, allows anyone to be happy regardless of their circumstances.  People whether they are members of the church or not, naturally feel guilty for their sins.  The greater a person's understanding of the gospel, the greater their guilt.  Those who aren't members but live worthy lives don't have the guilty conscience but still sometimes find themselves uncomfortable with their own lives because they don't understand God's plan. That is why everyone needs the true and restored gospel.  When they understand that their personal worthiness is really all that matters in this life, their confidence grows and they find themselves happy, overlooking the difficulties of this life in favor of an eternal perspective.

So get yourselves worthy and go to the temple.  If you are going to the temple regularly you won't find it difficult to stay worthy.  And that's all that really matters for the 85 years or so that we hang out here on Earth.

Elder Howlett

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