Thanks for the letter madre, I love hearing about mission calls. I dont know why, but every time I read where someone is going, I get the feeling "yeah, that's exactly where they need to go". I will try to wave to Derek across the river next time I'm in Encarnacion. Carlson my friend, you are going to be living the life in Long Beach CA. I read Kords letters from the mtc, I'm so excited for that guy. He will do great in the Philipines, I have seen a lot of success when I develop a deep love for my investigators, and no one can not love Kord Catt. Imposible!
So bad news with our family of 14. In our first lesson with Nilso he said he hasn't had work in a while. When he does get work it is for a few hours in the morning so he told us to come by whenever. But every time we have passed by since, his wife tells us he is gone working. So its great that the Lord is blessing him with trabajo, but it really impedes his progression in the gospel. But if history repeats itself, this is exactly what happened with familia Reyes. Whom I should be seeing in the temple in February, so excited!
First off, neither Valdomiro, Osvaldo, nor Anna (I´ll explain who is Anna in a sec) were baptized. Though I did have an interesting learning experience this week. Wednesday we had a executive committee meeting with the bishopric. Me bajaron la caña aful. (they dropped the cane on me big time). They had concerns on how I was doing the missionary work here, specifically baptism. They literally had a list of things to talk to me about. here it is...
1) since I have been in this area I have baptized 7, equal to how many this area had last year. Which is great, but 3 of the 7 are inactive already. The first counselor said I was condemning people when baptizing them to only go inactive.
2) my first convert here, José, was baptized with only one assistencia. When presidente Franco served a mission, his converts needed to have six attendances in consecutive.
3) Teresa had many assistencias at church a few years back, but none recently. So presidente Franco didn't know who she was when she was baptized.
4) I haven't planned the baptisms as well as I should have, apparently when the catholic church has a baptism, it is a giant fiesta. And I invited the members a day or two before the baptism instead of a week before, announcing it in church.
5) Then on top of all that my announcement of a miracle baptism of Anna this Saturday threw them for a loop. We found a menos activo family on wednesday who have a 9 year old daughter Anna who hasn't been baptized yet. Anna and her older brother regularly attend church, but I never knew she had never been baptized. So we invited her to get baptized this Saturday, the parents were all for it. Anna has the most sincere prayers that I have ever heard from a little girl, incredible. Since Wednesday she has been reading 1 Nephi every day. The bishopric asked me why I am doing everything so fast instead of taking my time.
I´m sure you can all see their point and even agree with them. But as to the condemning comment, I disagree. Someone who is baptized and then falls inactive in a short amount of time is not "condemned". 3Ne 11:33-34 goes something like this, he who is baptized in my name shall inherit the Kingdom of God. He who is not baptized in my name is condemned. It's important to know that condemnation does not mean sent to the fiery furnace forever. In the topical guide it explains that condemnation is anything other than celestial glory. Although the terestial and telestial kingdoms are better than we can imagine, they are nothing compared to the celesitial kingdom. Without being baptized either in this life or the next, sí o sí you can not enter into the mansions above. So like it says in Jacob 1:9 I must do everything within my power to save these people and baptize them so that their condemnation does not fall on my shoulders.
I hope these don't sound like excuses to you, it is just how I think about the missionary work. I know this has been a very strange letter, so sorry for those of you who think I am the type of missionary that baptizes anything that moves. But I really do understand the importance of baptism and the importance of my calling.
Now with all that said we are still going to try to heed to president Franco´s council. The last thing I want to do is loose the support of the bishopric. His calling is to edify la iglesia in his area (including adding more converts to the ward), the missionaries are a tool for him to accomplish his calling. So we will try to find a good balance between what president Franco wants and what Presidente Agazzani expects of us. I have definitely become more flexible in the mission haha.
Well, let's end this letter on a happy note. Anna´s baptism is all set for this Saturday. Valdomiro and Osvaldo are preparing for the 1st of December, and Pablino (the dad of Jose y María) committed to the 8th. A big step for him. Pablino is a really funny guy, here's a quote from the other day when talking about the word of wisdom. "no soy un hombre malo, solo no cumplo con los mandamientos de Dios" he knows he needs to change but thinks he is a saint at the same time. Hard to explain this guy, you just have to meet him.
|With Pres. Franco|
Our oldest (time visiting) investigator is Rodrigo. It's been almost 3 months that we have been teaching him. He is great, really does want to come to church and be baptized. and last night we found why he has had lame excuses every Sunday for not coming. His wife Claudia goes to another church, and Rodrigo doesn't want to come solo. We expected this to be the reason for a while but he finally told us last night, it was a very sincere discussion. So we invited him to talk to her and tell her how important this is for him. They are a young couple who love each other a lot, so I think she will understand if he gains the courage to tell her how much he wants to know if this church is the true church of Jesus Christ. Claudia doesn't usually share with us but we are going to prepare an awesome lesson on temples for the next time she does. In the mean time we are watching a lot of movies with Rodrigo, (running out of topics to discuss), but last night he asked if we had a longer one about Joseph Smith, so we will be watching that one soon. I will have to hold back the tears when watching it with an investigator. Joseph Smith is the man, I always get emotional when talking about him. The type of person that could go through all of that has a lot of faith. I would say he was rivaled only by the brother of Jared. Someday I will give that guy bear hug and tell him how much of an inspiration he was for me. If you ever come across any books or journals written by him, I would love to read them.
Today we are going to the waterfalls near Brazil with the district, should be exciting. I will send fotos next week.
les amo mucho, yo sé que estamos en la iglesia verdadera.
abrazos y besas,