24 November 2014
The title of this letter is: Hermana VanCott still doesn't know how to recognize promptings from the Spirit but when God sabotages her transportation she gets it. God is really patient as she learns.
It all started when we walked by bike with a flat tire to the shop to get it fixed. No one was there but I remembered that I had seen a painted sign on a house around the corner advertising that they fixed bikes. We walked a little further and, sure enough, we met Juan who was happy to fix my bike. He is a very serene older man and seemed like a great guy, especially compared to the grumpiness of the other guy who usually fixes our bikes and is angry at the world. Juan invited us into his garage to escape the scorching sun and told us to have a seat on some worn velvety chairs while he got to work. This gentleman didn't speak much as he removed the tire and felt every inch of it for flaws, removing the thorn that had punctured my tire. He had dress shoes that were becoming dusty as we walked around on the dirt floor of his garage. We asked about his work and he told us that he didn't have a lot of bikes to fix now that the man around the corner was there. Juan's street doesn't have the public traffic that the other shop gets. I promised myself that in the future we will always go there. Juan fixed my tire and double checked the other tire just to be nice. He charged us half what the other shop does. I invited him to learn more about the gospel and left a pass along card with our number but as we left I felt like I should have done more. I told Hermana Nuñez that if my tire went flat again it would be a sign that we needed to teach Juan.
As we prepared to leave the house the next day my tire was completely flat. We scheduled a time to visit Juan the next day and get my tire fixed again.
Because we were without bikes we had to pay a colectivo to go eat lunch with a member in the other sector. As we were waiting at a bus stop to return, all of the colectivos that passed were full. This is nothing unusual. It happens all of the time but we can always count on a bus passing two or three times every hour during the day. As we waited I started a conversation with a man sitting next to me. He is a gardener who lives in our sector. He says that missionaries had visited him before but when I asked where he lived I was disappointed to find out that it is part of my sector I have never been to before and always failed to find. He tried to draw a map for me on one of my post it notes but when I looked at it I was even more confused. He said, "There's a street," and he drew a line, "and my house is just right here." He drew a square off to the side of the line. The street doesn't have a name? No. Your house doesn't have a number? No. There's a hill. Oh, of course. That helps. I gave him our number and the address of the church and the conversation died. We kept trying to flag down colectivos but none of them had two empty seats. Finally the micro came around the corner but it passed without stopping for us! We were there for so long it was becoming absurd. We sat back down on the bench at the bus stop, thinking we might be there a long time. I had the prompting to talk to this man again. "But he lives really far away," I thought. "We don't have time to travel to his house and I don't even know how to find it." I was praying for a colectivo to come soon so we could get home in time for our appointments. The thought entered my mind, "If you just talk to this man and extend a REAL invitation to hear the gospel, you'll be able to get home. You're here for a reason." I'm sure that God has power to send a colectivo with room for two sister missionaries and if He doesn't, it's probably because there is a reason. He doesn't waste his servants' time. So I pulled out a Restoration pamphlet and started to teach that man right there in the bus stop. I asked him if he would like missionaries to visit him again and he said yes. I wrote down his phone number and as much information as I could. As soon as I did everything in my reach for this man, I knew that a colectivo would stop for us, but before another colectivo came a bus pulled over. I don't mean a local bus, either. It was one of the giant tour buses with reclining seats, the kind we take to Santiago. The driver pulled over, the doors opened, and he asked me, "¿Van por Calle Larga?" He offered to take us. The driver was ending his shift and was on his way to park the bus in Calle Larga, but he recognized the redheaded foreigner who had ridden his bus, perhaps many times, with a blond girl (everyone remembers you, Hermana Dodds). He assumed correctly that we were trying to get to Calle Larga. Rather than squishing into the back seat of a colectivo like I was praying for, we got a free ride in a private air conditioned tour bus. You can bet I contacted the driver, too.
We went to the bike shop again and this time I talked to him more. We shared more about the Restoration and about prophets. We found out that he can't receive us to teach lessons right now because his wife is in the hospital, but we wrote down his wife's name and promised to pray for her.
Update on one of our investigators: He's finished the entire triple. He read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price within the five months since we contacted him in front of his house. I have been waiting for this for five months because he refused to ask God if it is true until he had read everything. Now he says he feels ready to pray. I think I would feel the same way as an investigator. Before my mission this is the kind of person I hoped to teach. After reading the Book of Mormon he said he felt calm, but it was the same doctrine as the Bible. He didn't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet because he hadn't revealed anything new. When we gave him a copy of the triple he wanted to read it all. He has questions about what he is reading when we show up and I love visiting him. He understands our purpose and knows that if he receives and answer he needs to be baptized. He agreed to pray and we planned to visit him the next day.
We fasted for him and I was hoping that he would receive a clear answer but he hasn't recognized it yet. In the lesson we talked about the Holy Ghost. Part of this process is that he needs to quit smoking and come to church. He understands that they are commandments and I know that if he keeps them he will be more receptive to the Holy Ghost. We love him and I hope that we can do our part to receive the revelation necessary to teach him what he needs to know and direct him to the path where he can receive more of the light he yearns for.
I taught district class this week on Chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel. The district leader asked me to talk about how to help investigators recognize and act on an answer from the Holy Ghost, which is interesting because that is exactly what I need to learn to help our investigator. I feel inadequate teaching because I am certainly not an expert on the subject. I was nervous about teaching the class and stressed because I didn't have much time to prepare. Sometimes I just kneel on the bathroom floor and pray that if I give the Lord all of my time that somehow it will be enough to accomplish what I am supposed to do.
While I was preparing to teach in the evening, Hermana Nuñez made a birthday banner for Hermana Clark and Hermana Castillo, who had birthdays this week. We brought brownies and others brought treats to district class to celebrate the two birthdays and the fact that my class was over.
Yesterday was stake conference and the stake presidency was reorganized. The second counselor is now the new stake president. Two members of the seventy and President and Hermana Videla spoke.
Last Monday I found a weird yellow melon at the store. It looked like a giant lemon. We bought it just to try it. It was pale, pale green inside and my companion taught me to make a chilled soup with melon, lemon, and orange.
As we walked home in the dark one night we saw something going on in the plaza. Hundreds of people dressed in black were walking to solemn music and holding candles. Their leader in a cape looked like a vampire. There were crosses and a coffin. We stood at a distance for a while, wondering if we should find another route home. It turned out to be a protest. Something is going on with the schools here because some want education to be free for everyone and others want to maintain private schools. These protesters were holding some kind of mock funeral to demonstrate their disgust for whatever is happening. Several schools have had strikes and there are a lot of children who missed classes this week.
For P-day we went to Santa Teresa. It was the second time for me but Hermana Nuñez has never been. Something new for me is that we hiked up to the cross on the hill. It's supposed to be the distance that Jesus walked with the cross. I'm attaching a picture from on top of the hill so you will believe me when I say that my sector is HUGE and very isolated.
Love you all!
Hermana Eva VanCott