Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2014-11-17 Lots of people show their love here by giving us food.

Hey Everyone,
This was another great week.  I don't remember if I mentioned it but our new pensionista's husband was just called as our new ward mission leader which is very convenient.  We've been talking with him about what we can try and do to get the members more involved in our ward.  They aren't very involved at all.  
my area
One of the things I didn't realize before the mission is how well my ward at home functioned as it should.  Here some things just aren't working as they ought to.  For example, the missionary effort is almost purely powered by the 6 missionaries in the ward.  In fact the 6 of us account for a great deal of what happens in the ward--piano playing, teaching classes, giving talks, etc.  The work of salvation deals with baptizing, retention, activation, family history, and temple ordinances.  And according to the prophet, as of last year we should work hand in hand with the members.  That's just not happening here yet.

Hermana Herminia (and mote?)
There are some big issues that I've noticed in our ward.  One is home teaching.  About 1% (not a typo) of the families in the ward get visited.  It is nearly nonexistent.  The vast majority of the men who could have assignments don't and almost none of the young men do either.  After 3 weeks of talking about it with the bishop, Wilfredo, Kevin, and Luis Miguel got their assignments.  Trying to get them assignments, I came across the list of assignments for the whole ward and realized how little home teaching gets done. We have more than 600 members registered in the ward and less than 200 in attendance per week and I believe that home teaching will be essential in their reactivation.  It would be difficult for the 6 missionaries to visit that many people on their own, but since our ward does not have addresses (there are no street names or house numbers) it is completely impossible for us to even find them without the members' help.  I believe that home teaching would not only help the less active members but would also help with the work of salvation in general because the men would be more worthy.  It's not surprising that they don't go out of their way to share the gospel if they can't even complete a basic duty of the Priesthood.

Hermana Herminia (from Collpampa) loves us and loves our visits.  This week when we went she cut us up a watermelon, and then gave us each 2 oranges, and then brought us out mote (giant boiled corn) with cheese.  Then when we left she gave us 3 more cheese balls to take home.  Lots of people show their love here by giving us food.  Even though she does love us, we can't get her to come to church.  She goes to a different Christian church every Sunday.  I think we are getting closer though.  This week we are going to go help harvest (mom thinks he meant hoe) corn with her and her family who we don't know as well.  We hope if we win over the family a little bit too then they'll come visit the church as a family.

I've got an awesome new clothes washing system.  There is a lady who lives right across the street and washes clothes.  Once a week she comes over in the morning and washes out on our giant balcony and then leaves them hanging to dry.  Now I never have to worry about dropping off or picking up my clothes.

Things are still going well with the Valencia family (Benancia and Reinaldo). On Saturday night we had a lesson with them.  Reinaldo already has a new job! He didn't come on Sunday because he was working, but during this week he has to talk to his boss about what day he is going to take off and he is going to try and get Sundays off. If that works out it would be awesome. His new job also came with a pay raise which means that it will be easier for the mom to quit her Sunday job. At the end of our lesson, Benancia told us she wasn't sure how they could go to church the next morning because church starts at 8 and there was a mandatory neighborhood meeting from 7 to 10 with a 100 boliviano no-attendance fine. The family said they'd pray to be able to go though. The next morning in church the mom and her 4 kids walked in. Her sister had shown up from out of town and Benancia had sent her in her place to the meeting. That was a great experience for me and the family. I hope we keep seeing little miracles like that until they can all be baptized.

Junior came and did visits with us for that Saturday too.  We took up with the plan being that he could be of help to Alan (Benancia's 13-year-old son).  He did bear an awesome testimony about why he'd gotten baptized directed specifically at Alan.  Alan is really the only one who's not sure yet what to think about the church.

9 or 10-year-old kid herding the cows and sheep on his own.
I was pretty impressed by that.
The Bustamante twins didn't get baptized.  Bummer.  They still want to but their mom won't let them.  Hopefully sometime in the near future the mom will change her mind.

We talked to Fabian a couple times this week.  He affirms that he did get an answer from God that it is the true church but he didn't go to church again yesterday.  I'm not really sure where the disconnect is there.  We are going to work on getting him to church this week.

I hope you guys have a great week.  I hope you say good and meaningful prayers.

Elder Howlett

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