Monday, March 16, 2015

Gathering of Israel, Electricity Hassle, Leadership Council, and Moving House

16 March 2015

Dear family,

This week I had crazy dreams. I dreamed that Julia was on the news... tap dancing. She was really good. I think that dream came because Hermana Duffy was tap dancing in the bathroom at leadership council. I also dreamed that Hermana Santander wore green pajamas by coincidence the night before St. Patrick's Day, even though it is not celebrated here, and I was really disappointed because I couldn't pinch her. We'll see... I also dreamed that you guys moved when I got home from my mission to a house with a very big slide like the one that used to be in Liberty Park, only open instead of a tube. I was confused about how I would go to college without a car if you lived a little bit farther away from BYU. It's not time to think about college, is it? No.

Back to proselyting...

We taught the family from my last letter again. They are just fascinated by the Book of Mormon and have such great questions. The father wonders why the Book of Mormon was hidden for so long and why it isn't inserted in the Bible now that it has been translated and published. One of the focuses of our mission and the area is to teach members and nonmembers to think about the gathering of Israel all of the time. We teach it with members all of the time but recently I had wondered how I was supposed to do that with investigators, the nonmembers. Well, this answered my question and we had the opportunity to explain the gathering of Israel very simply after reading in Ezekiel about the stick of Judah and the stick of Ephraim. I have realized that using the Book of Mormon is a great tool because it is relevant to investigators and doesn't require giving them information that is over their heads. We use the pictures in the paperback Books of Mormon to explain that the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ and was translated by Joseph Smith. We explain that it was written by ancient prophets who were led to the Americas, the scattering of Israel, and that they taught the gospel, had the authority to baptize, and that Christ visited them personally. We explain how Moroni buried the plates and that Joseph Smith was led to find them and translate them, restoring the fullness of the gospel to the earth and initiating the gathering of Israel which was prophesied millennia ago. 

A miracle happened at lunch on Tuesday. A woman invited us to lunch and told us last week that she was going to make cow stomach so we could try it. although she knows that most people don't like it, she "knows how to prepare it well." I did not want to eat cow stomach and honestly didn't think I could. I prayed. I wanted her to be home so we could teach her, but I wanted her to forget about lunch. Miracle of miracles! She had to go to the doctor that morning and received the good news that they are going to operate on her eyes. She hopes that when they take care of the cataracts she will be able to see better. And she got home in time for us to teach a lesson but not in time to cook. She served us leftovers, casuela with very normal chicken.

Our electricity went out this week because the Elders in the office are new and they didn't pay our bill. It was a big hassle and we had a few days without it. Good thing I have an emergency backpack with extra flashlights that Jaylen left me in addition to my own. We had to wake up early for leadership council on Wednesday and shower in the dark with cold water at 5:30. My bad attitude was tangible. The conference was worth the hassle, though. They talked about the Spirit of Elijah and President showed us part of a conference held here with some members of the 70. They talked a lot about Alma 5: 7, 13. They talked about walking up according to God (my best translation, look up the scripture in English please). They talked about how our job is to minister. We can't give faith to other people but we can minister and invite the Spirit so people can increase their faith. 

The president's wife never fails to surprise us with more health tips to make us paranoid. She has talked about fungus before but she expanded her power point with more details that make us itch as we sit listening to her. After reemphasizing that she added to her slideshow spider bites. She showed us photos of poisonous and harmless spiders and lots of bitten flesh. I learned that the spiders Hermana Nuñez and I caught in November or December were, in fact, arañas de rincon. They are highly dangerous and the ones we had in Calle Larga were full grown giant versions. I am grateful that we survived sleeping in that house and that I am now in apartment buildings, even if the electricity went out. 

We moved apartments, by the way. The Elders moved into where we were and we are now a few buildings over in a third floor apartment. Between the electricity hassle, leadership council, and moving house we lost a lot of time this week and I don't feel like we taught as much as we wanted to. 

The stake had a family history activity. It was kind of hard to get people there because there were about five other activities between our branch and the stake going on the same day. When we showed up there was hardly anyone there. The family history consultant of the stake sent all of the missionaries out to the streets to make contacts and invite people in for an open house. We left the church and the first person I saw was on old man with a cane. All of the other people in the street were running around, texting, catching buses. He was calmly and slowly walking down the street and in the direction of the church! I told my companion, "He looks like he might be interested in family history." I contacted him and he told us that he had a friend who is Mormon and had been invited to go to church but never went. We invited him in to see what it was like and to learn something about family history. When we presented him to the family history consultant of our branch, he used his last name. The family history consultant's mouth dropped. Her last name is the same as his. This man's full name is the same as her grandfather's name. We don't know how they are related or if they are related but it sure sparked this man's interest and made the family history consultant really happy to help this one man start his family history, even if a lot of people didn't show up to the activity. My companion passed his address to the Elders in San Felipe and the man said he would go to church on Sunday. We're curious to find out if he did. He said the chapel was beautiful. On his way out he shook my hand, and looking me in the eyes said a very sincere, "Thank you for inviting me." In his other hand he had his cane and his family history booklet, which he had started. 

Hope you have a good week!
I love you lots!
I am praying for you to be healthy!
Hermana Eva VanCott

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