Hello Family and Friends,
We had a Zone Conference this week! My first one! And Elder Duncan from the Seventy came and spoke to us. I'm understanding enough Spanish now to have even better spiritual experiences and understanding the talks I listen to in Spanish. I don't get it all but I get the main ideas at least. Elder Duncan talked about how we could be more efficient as missionaries and how we needed to start with a vision and then make goals to reach the vision and then have plans for each goal. I knew all this before but it was a good reminder and I saw the change in my campanion a little bit this week. It's not that we are working harder but that we are working better together and more effectively. Elder Head (my Zone Leader) told me today that in the last change Elder D was recommended to be a trainer and District Leader because of his hard work and results that he was having. I don't know where that went (and Elder Head made the same comment that the Elder D he knows now is more lazy than before). I'm really saddened by this but I know that Elder D is trying because I can see someone inside of him who desires to work and serve the Lord with all his heart. One comment that Elder Duncan made was, "Trust that angels are working on the hearts and minds of those who you will teach." and Kyle, you told me that the most important conversion story may be your companion's. So, I'm praying and wishing for the best to come about quickly for Elder D, but all in the Lord's timing.
We were also authorized to work till 9 pm here in our zone as long as we weren't walking around contacting or looking for work at 8 pm. The purpose of this is to fit in extra time to strengthen families in the ward and recent converts. Elder Duncan said we should have 20 families that we are teaching every week and 60 lessons every week, as well. These are huge numbers and hard to accomplish when you have a companion who doesn't think it's reasonable. I asked Elder D if he thought we could be teaching 20 families in the next two weeks and he said we could but then he won't make plans to find them or do anything to find them. I don't know why he isn't connecting "planning" to "success"...
"Ustedes logran que ustedes desean!" -Elder Duncan (You manage your desire!)
So we committed Quenia and Alexander to be baptized but the problem is that they need to be married (usual). The other problem is that they have to come to church every week (not just the required 5). They have to come five times to be interviewed for baptism but for me they need to stay active in the church every week possible. Yesterday they didn't come because they had other things to do but they promised the next week. I hope they know, and I seek to let them know, that they shouldn't make and keep these commitments out of respect to the missionaries. I think they get that for the most part. But the going-to-church part and retention will be a challenge... especially with our ward. They gave up coffee and have read what we've asked them to read. They're great but we need to start giving them bigger commitments to start to test where they are. If they are meant to be baptized in the next month then we can make it happen. But, if they aren't ready, we move at their pace toward baptism.
The package!!! It came!!! AND IT WAS JUST LIKE CHRISTMAS!!!! I couldn't be more grateful for the things that came... especially the Nutella and Peanut butter. Those are really expensive here for the missionaries so they are fabulous! Thank you for the PJ nets as well. My comp just laughed but I think they are great and are helping to keep my legs free from bites. I don't use the head net yet though cause I haven't been bitten EVER on my head yet. It's weird but they like my elbows, ankles, and knees. Was there supposed to be a shirt, too, made out of the net material? Cause I'm missing that part. Where I'm at now it won't make a huge difference cause I have the sheet covering that part of me most of the night. Just wondering if anything was stolen in the mail...
A little about my ward because you asked, and because it's been on my mind recently... They are great but they aren't super helpful to the missionaries. We teach lessons to them that are really spiritual and then we ask if there is anyone they know that is struggling with marriage or has a newborn baby, or just moved in or one who needs service and they say, "Nope." Then we ask if they know of anyone that we can teach and they say, "Nope, this block is only stubborn Evangelicos and don't want more religion." HOW DO THEY FREAKING KNOW!?! Can they read minds or something?
So this Sunday, the stake president came and talked to the members about how they can do their part, but we'll see. His talk was really inspiring to me as a missionary so I hope that the ward felt it. I honestly just want to tell the ward to make appointments to have Family Nights with us and then invite our investigators. We'll find the people they need to invite because obviously, they are incapable of inviting their non-member friends... It's a big mess and to say the least, our ward councils just make me feel like I'm my helpless self, again, in the Junior year of high school, with an overload of school work to do, and I'm up till 3 in the morning doing it. I could probably pull my hair out right now (I can just hear Mom right now telling me to count my hair blessings). So thank you for all your letters of encouragement and enlightenment. They were perfect timing and very helpful.
I looked at the ward list of members and we have three pages, front and back, of names of members and one third are active??? You know that map that our ward has in the clerk's office, Dad? I'm needing that right now but for my ward here in El Sitio. I need phone numbers and addresses and names but we don't have that here. I asked if the Bishop could print something off from the Church resources but he just gave me a list of names and I have no idea who they are and where they live and if they are active or not. It's really disorganized down here and that's why we are having issues with the ward. There's a common knowledge among missionaries here in Honduras, "Only trust the members to keep you safe. And even then only trust them sometimes..."
Enough of my ranting because it has been a good week. Victor Manuel is coming to church now and we hope that continues and we can pass him off to the members (again with the members) smoothly. We haven't been able to teach Maricela yet because she hasn't been home when we've visited but we'll keep trying! Nahúm and Heidi haven't taken out the papers to be married yet but we have a time scheduled to go talk to them about it this week. Hopefully, that comes together this month and we can have another baptism. He is sooooo ready to be baptized already. We also have met others but I don't have time to write them all down and their stories so I'll update you more every week.
So that's it for this week folks!
Mom and Dad,
Seriously, thank you for the package! It was awesome! And the piano music books! Thanks! The only problem is that I don't have a piano now... They don't have one in the chapel cause no one can play. I can play but before they didn't have anyone that could so they never bought one.
Dad, I have the pictures still that are on the camera and I can send them to you if you need them. They are pictures of the library books that you wanted to read pages from but couldn't copy the pages of the book cause they're too old or something like that. I can upload them to Google Drive and then you can have them from there but I only want to do it if I have to because there are a lot.
Thank you for the talks at Gpa Tuft's funeral. I started tearing up and had a spiritual experience reading all the letters and seeing all the pictures from this week. They were really neat and I want to keep them for after my mission as well. So thank you Mom, Dad, Kristen, Tom and Megan, and the Clements too! I keep chugging along and doing what I need to be doing.
I have come to realize even more how much I'm grateful for all the things that I've been given. I've been raised in the best community, and by the best parents in the world. I couldn't ask for anything more except for the promise of eternity with them. And this I already have.
Love you family more than you could know!
(In this next part, as I read it to Lindsay, she said, "Whoa unto the hypocrites!" Spencer wouldn't even read Kristen's letters ever. All of a sudden it means more to him now.) :) :)
Lindsay, that includes you! And even though you don't write me, I hope that you are reading my letters (you probably aren't doing that either but you can start now). I can promise blessings if you do, not because my letters or Kristen's letters are super special but as you try to learn and commit to have an open heart and ears to hear, you can learn more than you ever thought you possibly could. Here in the mission we work with goals. Can you make a goal to read my letters every week and then work to achieve that goal? It's a lot to ask, I understand, cause I wasn't faithful in doing it either BUT I wish I would've!!! It's only going to happen if you want to make it happen. It's all up to you.