Monday, January 26, 2015

Santiago Temple Trip

26 January 2015

Dear Family,

We survived transfers! Hermana Santander and I will be staying in Llay Llay together and I am very happy about that. The zone, however, is going to be a very different place. When I arrived, it was 90 percent sisters. There were a few Elders as district leaders and zone leaders. Now I am officially the only sister with almost eight months in the same zone. I have never left Los Andes but everyone else has. And...this transfer there are only seven sisters. My companion and I, Hermana Castillo and Hermana Kingsbury who are staying in Los Andes, and Hermana Ward and Hermana Nuñez (Hermana Clark's ex companion) will be in a trio with a new sister in Putaendo. That's it. It means I only have five exchanges to do this time around. Fewer sleepovers and fewer sectors to visit.

Even though we didn't have changes we took advantage of the transfer bus and went to Santiago. We will probably try to visit the Islamic Art exhibit and hope it is open now.

Yesterday a young woman who was taught by the the Elders in Catemu was baptized after church. One of the Elders from Llay Llay was in charge of the musical number and during the service asked me to sing with him and then decided that he would play the guitar and I would sing solo. I was so happy to see this young woman be baptized. It's been wonderful to be in the branch and see her attend for the first time, show her where Relief Society is, and introduce her to our investigator. They have daughters the same age and they are already friends. 

Saturday we went to the temple for a tour with our investigator and the young woman who was baptized the next day. The branch had planned a bus to go do a session so we were able to ride to Santiago with them. We packed some sandwiches for lunch and had a tour. Some missionaries from the East mission gave us a tour. I don't know if our investigator heard anything they said because she was chasing after her little girl. She surprises me with how mature she is. When we met her I assumed she was older than me but it turns out she's closer to Adria's age. We're going to have to get permission from her parents before her baptism.

The temple and the MTC are right next to each other so I ran into the MTC President, President Doll, and Hermana Doll. 

Our investigator is doing well. This week I visited her to see how she was doing with family history before we went to the temple. Her question of the day was whether she could do vicarious temple work for her little brother. We haven't met him yet but she says he's pretty lazy. He plays video games and doesn't want to go anywhere or talk to anyone. She's concerned for his salvation but we explained that she can't do vicarious temple work for the living. 

We found a new family this week! We taught them two times and invited them to church and they came! This is a complete "golden" family. Father, mother, two boys, and a baby girl. Their sons are very precocious. They are probably both between ten and fourteen years old. They pay attention and make intelligent comments. The oldest isn't sure whether he believes in God. He likes science and wants to be a paleontologist. Good thing I'm a neuroscience major and my companion is a civil engineering major. We talked about how science and religion go hand in hand. He and his father want to learn English. The younger brother plays the viola and likes math. He knows a lot about other religions, including Hare Krishnas and Judaism. He told us he read part of the Restoration pamphlet we left after the first visit when we got to know them. Very few adults read the things we leave them, but this kid did. He explained to us, "It's kind of an introduction to Christianity, isn't it?" The second visit we taught the Restoration and they were very receptive. Their response was "That makes sense." They came to church just for the first hour. The mother, was walking in and out with her baby but she said she listened from the hall. 

This week we had zone conference. The information was what we had already received in leadership council. It was good for me to hear the same message twice so I can evaluate how I have put it into practice and see that there is more I can do.

At the end of the conference we watched "Meet the Mormons" in Spanish! I got to listen to the boxing family from Costa Rica in their native tongue but there were translations for the others. The movie inspired me but also gave me a tinge of homesickness when I saw the Salt Lake airport. I loved that they had Mormon families doing both amazing and mundane things. I hope this movie reaches some nonmembers, but more than that I wish every Mormon family would share the gospel. Missionaries are weird, let's face it. A few of our converts will become missionaries for a short time but we want all of them to become normal members for forever. The gospel has to be a normal part of life, a real thing instead of a product we sell but haven't ever tried. If the gospel is true, and it is, then why do we hesitate? Romans 1:16. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth." I'm making an honest effort to contact more people. I talk to people on the bus because I live in constant fear that on the other side of the veil there will be people I have to apologize to, people who way, "You knew! You even had the name tag! And you didn't say anything to me." It helps me to think of them in premortality. It's easier to extend the invitation to come unto Christ because I know that they must have accepted Jesus Christ in the Spirit World and they hoped to do so again on earth. Even if they don't remember it, they came to earth with a goal to accept the message I preach. I can't let someone live and die without the gospel when a Mormon girl sat by him on the bus for an hour silently. 

I want to add that just being called as a missionary doesn't make it any easier. You know what does? Practice. Lots of awkward practice. I also want to add that not wearing a name tag or taking off a name tag does not free you from the responsibility to share the gospel. And yes, it's awkward. And of course, people say no. And there are those who ignore us. However, it's worth it when one person says, "Thank you. I feel like God sent you here," as a homeless man on a bench told us this past week. 

On the way home from the conference something funny happened. Jaylen always wanted to contact a bus. She wanted to stand in the front and introduce ourselves as missionaries. We never did, but today a young man from another church in Llay Llay did. He preached about God's love for us, started crying, and invited everyone to his church. When he sat down, I went and sat next to him and told him that I liked his message and that I had a book that could change his life. I only had a few seconds to give him a copy of The Book of Mormon before his stop. Hermana Santander and I ran into him in the street yesterday. He hasn't read it and doesn't seem to have any interest, but I tried.

A funny note about movies in Spanish: Hermana Santander and a member of the branch presidency were talking about a movie called "The Rebellious Nun." It sounded like a funny movie and I wanted to see it someday, but as my companion continued to explain it I realized they were talking about "The Sound of Music." Also, "Despicable Me" translates to "My Favorite Villain."

Hope you are having a good week. I'd like to solicit prayers for our investigator  and the new family we are teaching. I feel content to stay in my sector with Hermana Santander and continue working with them all. This branch and this area are miraculous. I feel like the people are more receptive and the members are supportive. It's too good to be true! 

Love you!
Hermana Eva VanCott

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