1 February 2015
What a wonderful week!
Since we were in Santiago on the transfer bus we went to see the Islamic Art exhibit that hadn't been set up yet when we were there last time. I thought the exhibit itself was beautiful and it made me miss my Islam class. I love that the Muslims respect written word so much and incorporate beautiful Arabic script in their art.
We ate in a Chinese restaurant. The fun thing is that my companion is from Santiago so she knows everything. She said, "I ate here with my dad, let's go!"
Our investigator is doing so well! I have never had an investigator like her before. We don't have to remind her about church because we know she will show up before us, even though she has to get her daughter ready. We didn't even think to invite her to the primary pool party that the branch had because her daughter is nursery age. When we were leaving our coordination meeting she was there with her daughter for the party. She had shown up early and was helping set up the pools and arrange lunch. She had brought a tiny Disney princess inflatable pool for her little girl that matched her princess swimsuit. The members are wonderful to her and we feel like she is already a member.
We taught her yesterday. She is reading the Book of Mormon at a reasonable pace and we read with her to help explain. She always asks us what words mean, what symbols mean, and has amazing questions. That means that she has the desire to understand!
She also has a sincere desire to do what is right. When we taught the ten commandments she made sure to ask us to clarify about killing spiders. "Self defense is justified," says Hermana Santander. We sure kill spiders.
Yesterday we taught the Word of Wisdom. At first she was disappointed about tea and coffee, but before we even had the chance to respond she said, "No importa, chao te, chao cafe." She asked specific questions about different types of tea and other drinks like matte, which is okay. I feel confident that she has every intention to do what is right. She was concerned about how she used those things in the past and explained, "I didn't know. No one ever told me before." Obviously. That's okay. That's why we're teaching it.
She is teaching her little girl to pray! They are just darling!
The family we have been teaching couldn't come to church this week because they went to pick up their sons from a vacation. They plan on coming next week. Prayers would be nice!
In Relief Society yesterday they left time at the end for testimonies. I had already shared my testimony in sacrament meeting so I didn't want to take more time, but no one was standing up to speak and there was that awkward silence. Finally, our investigator stood up and went to the front. She talked about how grateful she was to have found the gospel and said she hoped she could stay here for her whole life. When she sat down she pushed another sister, a newly baptized member who was confirmed that day, and she also stood and shared about how the gospel had completely changed life for her and her children. Another convert of about two years stood and shared her testimony. Then, an investigator in jeans and a tank top went forward. She had been dating a man who is a convert, who brought her to church. They aren't dating anymore but she says she wants to keep coming to church because everyone treats her so well. She says that in the process of dating she had admired those who had faith and that's why she dated him. The testimony meeting was full of those who are new members or who aren't even members. I felt the spirit and felt so much joy. I am proud of our investigator for setting the example and having the courage to stand up when no one else was. Some of us (me included) sit there like we do every week and don't realize what we have. I am truly grateful for those who reminded me.
We received a miracle yesterday. We had an address for a contact and couldn't find the street but found a street with a similar name and decided to start knocking because we didn't have anything else to do. My companion started and I knocked the door next to hers. Why? Because it was on the shady side of the street and it was kind of hot in the afternoon. Then I heard in my head, "sacrifice." Dad wrote me about sacrifice last week and I have been studying it. This is a silly example, but I really felt like I had to cross the street and knock on the sunny side. I crossed and felt like I had to knock a specific door. I found a less active woman that isn't on our branch list! The door that Hermana Santander knocked is her less active daughter! We entered in the house where I knocked and talked for a while with this sister. She and her three daughters were baptized decades ago by some Elders. They loved the missionaries. Her husband was not baptized but he enjoyed having the Elders over, too. They left the church because when her daughter was a teenager she got pregnant and the branch president at the time WOULDN'T LET HER COME TO CHURCH. He told her she had to leave and as she left sacrament meeting crying, her mother followed her and they never came back. Now she has grandchildren and a great grandchild on the way. The daughter who was pregnant got married. Now her daughter is going to have a daughter. Their whole family is living without the blessings of the gospel but they want to come back. This sister says since they left the church things haven't been going very well. She knows the church is true and she wants to return. She feels like she has lost a lot of time. We explained that the leaders in the church are not perfect and apologized as representatives of the church for the awful thing that happened. We testified of the Atonement and promised that she can come back and it will be as if she never left. She can receive all of the blessings that she had before as a faithful member. As we shared our testimonies she began to cry and said she felt "alivio." Relief.
This Wednesday the General Relief Society President and someone from the General Young Women's Presidency are going to do a devotional for our area (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay) that will be available in our chapel. We invited this sister and she said she will come. We are praying for her and her family and hope that they can forgive, forget, and return to church to progress.
I am very happy to hear about Mom's family history success. I also got an email from Lauren about how her family is doing it as well. I want to share something I remember from Sister Nelson's talk that Lauren will probably remember. She talked about spirit prison as a literal place. There are people who are literally imprisoned in a literal place who are anxious to leave. I don't remember how she described it but I pictured something dark and gloomy. I just remember that it stood out to me how she said it was a "literal place." I think I knew that before but I hadn't thought about how real it is. She said that they are there until a messenger comes to them and lets them know that their work will be done on a specific day in a specific temple. It made family history a very real thing for me to hear her talk. I have lots of notes from that day that I need to share with you.
I love you and I am glad to hear about every fun detail of your lives. Thank you for writing me! I feel especially uplifted by all of your letters today!
Hermana Eva VanCott
P.S. There are Elders in Calle Larga now! I can't wait to hear about what they are doing there on Wednesday in district class.