13 April 2015
I forgot to mention something important last week. Elder Oaks is coming to speak to our mission on Saturday morning! It made listening to his talk in General Conference even fun because I was thinking about how this week he will be addressing us specifically!
I want to send Emily Erdmann happy birthday wishes tomorrow and say thank you, as well. She sent me an email several months ago in which she used an analogy about light. "You can't see the dirt on the windshield until you're driving into the light." It's an image that has come to my mind several times since and this week I used it as I conversed with another sister missionary in my group who has been struggling with wanting to go home. She is a new missionary who is still learning Spanish. I think she teaches well but she says that she is really nervous. We talked for quite a while. I told her about what Emily wrote me. "You can't see the dirt on the windshield until you're driving into the light." We agreed that as missionaries, we are doing more things right than ever before, but there are moments when you just feel very imperfect. I guess it means that you're going in the right direction, which allows you to see what needs to be changed to progress. Thank you, Emily. Also, thank you Mom for including tissues in your St. Patrick's Day package.
I've also had some wonderful experiences this week with the First Vision. Yesterday I sat next to our newly baptized member in Relief Society. Hermana Santander taught the lesson about Joseph Smith and called on her to read the scripture in Joseph Smith history where he describes the First Vision. As I listened I had a flashback to an average day at work at the MTC in Provo. The store was empty, there was nothing to do, and I was putting together pamphlets for the new missionaries. I started to memorize the First Vision in Spanish. A few months ago, I was able to share that story with our new member in her home and then in that moment I got to hear it in her voice and I felt the Spirit. After the lesson there was time to share testimonies and she stood right up. She pointed to the picture of the First Vision in the pamphlet that Hermana Santander had left on the white board, one of the pamphlets that I used to put together in the MTC. She said, "I want to share my testimony about this." She shared the story about how we had talked to her one day in front of her house. She said that it was a cloudy day, but that there was some sun shining through the clouds behind us. She said that she saw a light very similar to that one in the picture. Even though everyone in her family is of a different religion, she said, "Why not?" She let us teach her. She started going to church. She shared her love of the Book of Mormon and talked about how she reads it in every spare moment she has. She talked about the story of Nephi building a boat and that he had also said, "Why not?"
We taught a new couple on Monday. They didn't seem to be very sure of their beliefs but are very intelligent people. The wife teaches English in a school and has traveled to many countries. She knows a lot about many religions. The husband isn't sure if he believes in God but is very kind and offered us food about seventeen times. We taught the Restoration and ended by inviting them to read the Book of Mormon and pray to receive an answer. We described what the Holy Ghost feels like. As we continued, the husband said, "Wait. You were talking about feeling something. I felt something. It was when you were talking about the light descending." He was referring to the testimony of Joseph Smith. He seemed awed. I was awed that he recognized the feeling so quickly because he seemed so unsure of his beliefs a few moments before. His wife didn't seem to understand but we are excited to teach them and hope they both can receive an answer.
Last night we taught another man we have been teaching again. He began saying that he doesn't want to accept a religion because he would have to give up bad things. We had a long talk about a very basic principle, the difference between good and bad. I read a scripture from Moroni 7 about how all that is good comes from God and how we are given the ability to discern and choose. He talked about how opposition is necessary to be stronger and, obviously, we agreed with him and my companion read about "opposition in all things." We tried to be very clear and use the Book of Mormon to support what we said, but he still didn't understand. If we need opposition, he says, then bad things come from God? No. We tried to explain that opposition is necessary so we can choose. We become stronger not just by having opposition but by resisting it. It's like exercise. We also read in Alma about how "wickedness never was happiness." My companion talked about light and how darkness is the absence of light.
Recently a less active who moved here from Argentina contacted us in the street. She is taking care of two of her cousin's kids, a five year old and a two year old. She says that they have nightmares and see things that aren't there. She's heard rumors about the house so we are going to bring the branch president to bless the house and give blessings to the kids. We visited her, her cousin, and the two little boys yesterday. We talked about light with them as well. We told them than darkness and light can't exist in the same place. We sang a hymn and taught a lesson about prayer, scripture study, and church attendance, traditions that can bring light into their home and help their family, especially those little boys who have been troubled. As we conversed with this woman and her cousin, I noticed that the littlest boy had taken the Restoration pamphlet and was admiring the First Vision picture and the pillar of light.
Transfers are next week. I love Llay Llay and would be very happy to stay in this branch. I'm not sure what will happen, though, as I have been in Los Andes for so long now. I will let you know next week!
Lots of love!
Hermana Eva VanCott
Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago