Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2014-12-01 ...it was more important to come to church.

Hey Everyone,
Well, this week was a little crazy because Elder Stuesher got sick and wound up in the hospital for a few days.  Since we share a ward, my companion stayed in the hospital a couple of days with him and I went with his companion and we worked in both of our areas.  We kept up pretty well with all of our investigators in both areas but it didn't leave much time to look for new people. I spent a ton of time going back of forth between the hospital picking people up and dropping them off and talking to the doctor to keep Hermana Hansen informed about what was going on with Steusher.  

As a result of the intercambios, I did end up teaching Denilson, Kevin's friend, twice during the week.  He's come to the church the last 2 weeks and he is excited to be baptized on the 13th of this month.  Kevin always goes with us to teach Denilson.  He's great in the lessons.  We taught them a lesson about missionary work, and they got excited to try to bring a mutual friend to church on Sunday.

However, when we visited Kevin again on Friday he told us that he wasn't even going to be able to go to church because his family was going to a lake on Sunday morning.  That was bummer.  But then on Sunday he and Denilson showed up and they brought their friend too.  He told us he'd thought it over and decided that it was more important to come to church.   Kevin is doing great.

We had 2 great lessons with the Valencia family this week. We taught the Law of Tithing and they readily agreed to obey that commandment. Hermano Reinaldo had gone nearly a week without drinking or smoking the last time we talked to him. We also taught the Law of Chastity and discussed marriage with them. They told us they would decide on a day to get married and tell us on Wednesday. The mom told us about how they hadn't gone to any church in the last 4 years but that she had been praying for a long time that they could all go to church as a family. She told us that us showing up at their house one day and her husband's sudden willingness to associate with a non-Catholic church is an answer to her prayers. I think it is too.  I really love that family and it is great to see how the gospel is helping them. We are planning on a January 3rd baptism for the family.

This Sunday there were a bunch of people missing.  I wound up teaching Gospel Principles 2nd hour and Young men's third hour and my companion taught the Sunday School.  It's kind of weird how that happens here.   I'm definitely much better a teaching classes now than I was before I began my mission.

I can't believe it's already December...  my last Christmas in the mission.  It's really hot here.  It's starting to rain a lot and heavily. I love the rain. I hope you are all having a great time getting ready for Christmas.  Don't forget to visit the temple.  I love how great I always feel coming out of the temple.

Elder Howlett

P.S. D&C 76:22

2014-11-24 I know God exists and I know that this is His church.

Hey Everyone,
This was a good week here in Colcapirhua. We had our ward talent show.   The missionaries were supposed to have 2 acts.  For one we did synchronized swimming (not literal synchronized swimming).   Then we had something else planned but decided we weren't gonna be able to the day before so I just sang hallelujah again but this time with piano accompaniment because Hermana Trujillo plays piano very well.  Alan and Carlos participated with the young men as did Kevin's friend who he brought to the church for the first time that night.  It was supposed to start at 6:30 but started just after 8.  Besides that, it did go pretty well though.

Actually, this week we found out that Alan, and Carlos are really good friends (both investigators) and that they are also both friends with Esteban Fernandez (member who just turned 12.  We ran into Alan and Carlos at the same time right when mutual was supposed to start and convinced them to go together.  They met up with Esteban there too and had a great time.  Things are going way better with the two of them since then.  They are both very shy but are much more comfortable going to the church together.  

They both go to the same school and their younger siblings had to dance on Sunday morning for their end-of-the-year presentation.  That meant that all of both of their families weren't going to church because their grade depends on that.  However they didn't have to dance so we offered to go pick them up at  Carlos' house to go to church.  They agreed but on Sunday morning we got there and Carlos was still asleep and Alan wasn't there.  We went to church disappointed.  However, only 15 minutes late they walked into church.  That made me very happy.  Alan hadn't really liked going to church up to this time but he got to Carlos' house and woke him up and they both came.  They stayed the whole time too.

Esteban has been great in helping us out too.  He went with us to visit Alan's family this week and he makes them feel comfortable when they are at church.  I've been trying to get the bishop to call quorum presidencies for the priests, teachers and deacons and they finally had a meeting to discuss it this week.  The young men's president told me that they are planning on calling Esteban to be the deacons quorum president which I think he'd do a great job with.

Knocking doors this week, we found some people who are part of the Zanabria family who I lived with in Alamos.  The mom wants nothing whatsoever to do with the church.  They have an 11-year-old son who is interested and went to church for several years because they lived with the Zanabrias before.  We taught him the Restoration and our plan is to try and get the mom to talk to us this week.

The Valencia family is doing well still.  We taught Word of Wisdom this week.  The dad has to work on that but he's willing to do it and he also told us that he now believes that this is the true church.  The kids are all doing great now, including Alan.  We also met Benancia's sister who lives in the same house this week.  We've started teaching her too and she says she will come to church on Sunday.  I love teaching them because the whole family loves us and are so happy whenever we come.  It's great to see them changing. 

Carlos' family is also suddenly progressing.  His mom,  Natali, said she received an answer to her prayers to know that it's the true church.  That's a huge step because it's nearly 2 years ago that she first spoke with missionaries.  She says she'll go to church on Sunday (she didn't this Sunday because she had to take her 6-year-old son to his school to dance).  Her husband also told us that this week he had his answer and wants to be baptized.  I feel like the biggest issue for him will be how much he works. He told us he is working on getting Sunday free.  We explained that they have to get married and they are currently planning to get married in December and they have a baptismal date now for the 3rd of January.  Carlos still says that he does not know if it is the true church even though he understands and knows much more about the gospel than his parents.  I think he'll get his answer soon though since he's attending church now.

We had a zone conference with president this week--actually 3 zones together.  Eleven missionaries from the 3 zones end their missions this transfer.  They all gave their last testimonies which gave me plenty of time to think about how little time I have left.  Next zone conference will be my last.  I love being a missionary.  I still have over 3 months to make the most of and  I'm super excited for how it's going with the Valencia family and Carlos' family.

Kevin brought his friend not only to the talent show but to church on Sunday.  His friend is golden.  I don't understand why the members don't do what the recent converts almost always do in inviting people to talk with us or go to church.

On Wednesday morning we went to help Hermana Herminia with her corn field in Collpapampa.  She made us boiled potatoes with cheese and hard boiled eggs with runny yokes.  I didn't know that was a way to cook hard boiled eggs and I'm not a big fan of it.  Then we went to the corn field and used a hoe to tear up the dirt and pull it around the corn plants.  We just did a part of the field that was huge and it took a long time.  I can't believe that they do that whole field by hand.  It was pretty fun.  She told us that to thank us, one day she is going to make us guinea pig for lunch.  I'm kinda excited for that.

I love being a missionary.  I love and am grateful for the gospel.  I know God exists and I know that this is His church.  I'm sure that he listens to our prayers.  I'm sure that through prayer we can access the  power of the Atonement and Divine aid to be able to do anything God needs us to.

I hope you have a great week.  Happy Thanksgiving.  Not really sure if Thanksgiving was this Thursday that passed or the one that's coming.  Oh well.

Elder Howlett

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