Monday, May 4, 2015

Celebrating with sushi... happy eleven months to me!

4 May 2015

Dear Family,

Just so you know, this internet café I'm currently typing in is making me depressed. Behind three companionships of missionaries writing their families about their week there is a row of gambling machines and two middle aged women who should not be using them. They should be counselors to the newly called Relief Society President in our ward instead. If they're still there when we leave, which I expect, maybe I will tell them so. One time in Llay Llay I tried to contact a man who was gambling at one of those machines. No me pescó (I hope you learned your Chilenismos from Hermana Santander). I left a pass along card on the corner of his screen because he ignored me, the obnoxious gringa.

At the beginning of the week we passed by the home of the young man who was baptized last week, and although he wasn't home we talked to his mom for a moment and I asked her what she thought of the baptism. She said she was surprised that so many people attended. She wasn't expecting it. Hermana Young said, "All of them were there to support your son and his friend."

We taught the Restoration with this new convert and his parents.  The parents are curious but they are very Catholic. The mother works in a Catholic school and doesn't think she can read the Book of Mormon. We'll keep praying. They mentioned something that gave me hope. One of their son’s older sisters is receiving visits from missionaries in her home. She gave her brother a triple combination as a baptism gift. All I could think about were those kids, the nieces and nephews who attended the baptism. It reminded me of Dad's letter. Ripples. The mother mentioned that to us briefly as we were leaving and I felt like she was pondering about what we had taught. Her attitude seemed to say, "What a coincidence." We know it's not. It's called the gathering of Israel.

We taught a woman, a referral from a member, who would not accept a copy of the Book of Mormon. She just wouldn't. She's been to church before. She's been taught the Restoration more than once. We showed her the video of the First Vision. She just refuses to even let us leave a copy of the Book of Mormon in her home. It makes us sad but as Hermana Young and I talked afterward we both said that we felt the Spirit during the lesson and know we did all we could for her. Perhaps this woman will have another chance and she will embrace the gospel under other circumstances or perhaps she will choose not to change but all we know is that we did what we could at this time.

A sixteen-year-old boy who started investigating the church because he is learning English, went to the baptism on Sunday. I talked to him after and asked if he had ever been to a baptism before. He said he hadn't and told me he "felt something weird." He held his hand several inches in front of his chest and tried to describe it but could find words. I've seen that gesture before. It was the exact same thing a woman we taught in Calle Larga did when we watched the Restoration video and tried to explain a feeling she had. One of my favorite things about the mission is learning to recognize the Holy Ghost and helping others to learn to recognize it. It's real. 

Hermana Young and her companions before have been gradually teaching this teenage boy about the gospel as they visited to help him with his English. As we visited in his home later in the week the first words out of his mouth were about the baptism. He wanted to know how the two young men whose baptism he attended came to be baptized. Did they decide to or did we invite them? Hermana Young explained that we invite everyone but that they chose to accept the invitation. He said that he talked to one of them after and it helped him. He told us how he felt the Holy Ghost (he now recognizes his feeling and calls it the Holy Ghost,) as the first to be baptized was submersed in the water. A member later told us that this young man described his feeling as being lifted. Hermana Young asked, "Porque piensa que sintió eso?" "Why do you think you felt that?" He responded, "Porque tengo que hacerlo." "Because I have to do that." What beautiful words. What an inspired question. What a clear answer. I want to be a missionary forever. We read Mosiah 18 and talked about baptism. He wants to be baptized but he's afraid of what other people will think about him. He participates in a Catholic choir and is preparing for a confirmation in the Catholic Church. He says he wants to finish what he started. We'll make sure he understands the gospel and that he has friends in the Church of Jesus Christ as well. 

In another lesson with him we were able to include for the first time more members of his family. It was a Saturday so his mom was there as well as his grandma and great aunt. We explained the Restoration very briefly and taught them about temples and family history. We are planning a trip to visit the temple grounds with all of them this Saturday and I hope they are all able to go and that we can invite some members to accompany us.

I did exchanges this week with Hermana Nuñez (from Santiago). This is her first transfer without Hermana Clark. They were such a dynamic duo and were together five transfers. That's a long time. Hermana Nuñez taught me a new Chilenismo: piola. It means okay, tranquil. "En el jardín de Eden Ádan y Eva vivían piolita." You have to add the "ita" to at least one word in every sentence in Chile.

We had leadership council and I learned from the Los Andes zone leaders that the woman we taught and who was just baptized is closing her almacen (store) on Sundays so she can attend church. Hearing about her makes me so happy!

I came down with a cold Saturday and Sunday. We kept proselyting, though, and today I already feel better. It was interesting because as we walked between lessons I felt miserable but as soon as we entered a house I forgot about it and taught as I normally do. We didn't plan much to do on our P-day because of that. We cleaned the house, had sushi for lunch, and are writing all of you right now. After this we are going to do our grocery shopping and I will probably take a nap for the second or third time in my whole mission. I'm usually not in favor of sleeping on P-day or going to bed early any day but today I will make an exception.

I will end this letter with a funny street scene from this week. We often have to ignore men (drunk and sober) who try to talk to us in the street but this one cracked me up. He was listening to music on his phone and as we approached he played an Elvis song and sang to us in a rather good American accent, "You look like an angel, walk like an angel, talk like an angel, but I got wise, you're the devil in disguise..." I tried not to laugh until after we turned the corner.

This week I will do exchanges with the sisters in San Francisco, Thursday we are going to the temple with our zone, Saturday we will go visit the temple gardens with the teenage boy we are teaching and his family, and next week I will talk to you on Skype!
Have a great week! I love you lots!

Hermana Eva VanCott

We went out for sushi for lunch today. Happy eleven months to me!

We got a new frying pan from the office. Guess who's making perfect omelettes and gluten free pancakes?

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