Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014-12-29 "All that's left is the temple now."

Hey Everyone,
Well this was one of the best weeks of my mission.

The Valencia family marriage, baptism, and reception went off without a problem on Tuesday.

The marriage only took like 20 minutes in an office.  From there we went directly to the church for the baptism.  We got everyone changed, took pictures, and started the baptism quickly.  We had almost 50 members in attendance at the baptism which is a lot, especially for a week day.

me with Rinaldo
I baptized Alan (the oldest son) and Rinaldo.  Elder Delgadillo baptized Selma and Oliver.  Hermano Wilson (who helped us out a lot with the family) baptized Benancia.  (That's who the people are in white in the photo.)  The water was really cold. Benancia took like 5 minutes walking down into the font.

After being baptized, all 5 of them bore their testimonies.  Benancia bore a beautiful testimony about how happy she is to have found the church and that her whole family did too.  I felt the Spirit strongly as she spoke. It is incredible to see the difference the gospel has already made in their family to this point and to also know how much change and happiness is still to come for them.

Immediately following the baptism, we held their wedding reception right there in the church.  We arranged the reception and actually got a lot of help from the ward.  They cooked food for 80, decorated, contracted a hairdresser for Benancia, and got a professional  DJ to do the music.  Our pensionista made a really good wedding cake too.  It was a good way to get the ward to know them.

getting Alan to smile for a picture
As we left the reception and I said goodbye to Rinaldo, he told me, "All that's left is the temple now."  That made me feel good that he understands there's still work to do and that he's excited to be sealed.  His wife is excited to be sealed too.

That same night President called to tell me that Elder Stuesher was going to have his appendix out right away.  The next morning, Christmas Eve, I went to replace his companion and stayed with Stuesher all day in the hospital.  We got to play some chess and watch Mr. Kruger's Christmas.  Hermana Mercedes called to wish me a Merry Christmas Eve and since I was in the hospital, she sent Junior with food.  It was a ton of food and really, really good.  There was chicken cooked in some kind of delicious sauce.

We helped Kevin prepare his first sacrament meeting talk this week. He was supposed to speak on Sunday but then the stake presidency came and released our bishop and called a new one and that took up all of sacrament meeting so I suppose this Sunday Kevin will speak.  The new bishop seems like a cool guy.

On Christmas we ate breakfast with a counselor in the stake presidency.  He made us pancakes.  Then for lunch we went to the Carbalhos'. We ate dinner with our own pensionista. Between the eating and then talking to our families on Skype it didn't leave much time.  We went to visit Jorge's family (see the picture) because he turned 12 on the 24th and wanted us to go to his house for a breakfast but I couldn't because I was in the hospital.  Then our last visit of the night was to the Valencia family.  We taught a lesson about the Holy Ghost since they were going to be confirmed soon.

me and my companion with Diego, Christian, and Jorge
Being with them felt more like Christmas at home than the other stuff we did during the day.  I bought them Christmas presents and took them that night.  After the lesson we opened the presents and they fed us and had lots of coke.  I bought a green laser for Alan and Connect 4 for Oliver and we all played with those a little.  Alan's a pretty smart kid for playing Connect 4 so that was fun.  Benancia told me like 10 times to say hi to my parents.  So "Hi" mom and dad from the Valencia family.

Anyway, I'm very happy about this week.  It was a ton of fun.  I love the Valencia family and I'm excited for them as members of the church now.  I sure am glad that I'm a member of this church.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  Don't forget to pray.

Elder Howlett

P.S. Helaman 14:30  

2014-12-22 So, we...dressed him up as a guard and left him...

Hey Everyone,
This week was crazy busy.  Mostly getting ready for the Valencia wedding/baptism.

Last Monday we went to the airport to say goodbye to Jeremy.  He's in our ward and was leaving for a mission in Peru.  I couldn't help but think I'd be leaving from that airport in less than 3 months to go back home.  We spent that same evening going around to the people that Elder Delgadillo wanted to say goodbye to.  That got me thinking even more about how little of my mission is still to come.

It's really incredible how fast it's gone by.  I still have time to do a lot, but I have very little time in comparison to the time I had when I first landed here in Bolivia.  It's made it really easy to make the most of my time.  I think it's like coming to the end of the race and it's easier to just sprint to the finish line.  I naturally just want to do as much as possible every day because I can feel that the end of my mission is getting close.

Tuesday was an incredible day.  I went to downtown Cocha to drop off Elder Delgadillo and pick up my new companion.  At 11 o' clock that morning we were supposed to go with Benancia and Rinaldo and the witnesses to get their marriage papers signed and ready for the 23rd (it was the last day we could do it and still have them married on the 23rd).  At 10 o' clock I was waiting for my new companion to show up and Benancia called to say that she'd gone to try and get a copy of her birth certificate (which is needed to do the marriage paperwork) and they couldn't get her one because of some kind of error in her records.  They told her she had to go to the court in Quillacollo to get the error fixed. I offered to go with her.

My new companion showed up and we dropped his bags off at the house and went to meet up with Benancia.  We found the court and the line was so long to be attended to that we weren't even going to get in that day.  It looked like we weren't going to get it done for a marriage on the 23rd.  We decided to go to a different civil registry to try and get the birth certificate again though.  We found one and in 5 minutes had a birth certificate without any problem.  I don't understand how it happened but it was awesome.  

Juan Carlos as a security guard
However, we presented the papers and on Rinaldo's ID one of the numbers was worn off and they said that wasn't going to work.  They told us that during that day, the place to get a new one was working through lunch and they told us to go there. Hermano Rinaldo was working though and he had to go to get the new ID card made. So we called Hermano Juan Carlos from the ward and dressed him up as a guard and left him in Rinaldo's guard post for a few hours while we got the new card and then went to get the marriage papers signed.  We finally did at 4pm--five hours late and only an hour before the place closed but it worked.  It was amazing how many things worked out for us.

Hermano Rinaldo has to work on Christmas so we aren't going to be able to do the baptisms that day.  Instead we are going to do it directly after the marriage tomorrow.  I'm incredibly excited for that.  The family is super excited too.

We had a great lesson about the sacrament with Humberto and Natali (Carlos' parents) this week.  And then for the first time in the 4 months we've been teaching them, Humberto came to church,  We are hoping to build off of that momentum.

On Saturday one of Kevin's best friends, Denilson, got baptized.  Kevin brought another friend, Diego, to the baptism who lives in our area.  Diego came to church once too.  We got to talk a lot waiting for the baptism to start.  He seems like a really good guy and smart too.  After the baptism he asked me, "How's my baptism going to be?"  That's a good sign.

Kevin bore his testimony as part of the baptismal program.  It was awesome and I think really good for Diego to hear.  He talked about how much his life has changed since his own baptism.  He talked about how it's made everything better in his family as well.  I felt the Spirit strongly as he spoke.  

Daniel Fernandez also passed his interview this week.  He should get baptized on Friday.  I'll explain more next week.

Elder Terceros, my new companion, seems really good so far.  We are getting along really well and he seems very laid back.

I hope everyone has an awesome Christmas.  Be like Christ.

Elder Howlett

P.S. Luke 1:38, John 6:38  Mary was a chosen vessel.  When visited by the angel she submitted to her Father's will.  Christ would always do the same.  I do believe that He learned from his Mother's righteous example.