20 July 2015
Today we went to el Cerro San Cristobal with our investigator and her godson who she takes care of during the week. It was really interesting to visit a cathedral with someone who was so very Catholic only a few weeks ago. She taught us a lot and helped us understand the culture and the perspective of the people who worship there. The thing that impacted me the most was thinking about why people pray to saints. I understood that they expect these saints to intercede on their behalf, to talk to Jesus, who then talks to God. What I realized today, which made me kind of sad, is that these people often don't feel like they can talk to God directly. In their minds He is someone distant who may or may not hear them and grant their requests. The restored gospel makes it so clear that our Heavenly Father knows and loves us personally. He allows us to speak with Him personally, whenever we want to, and He always listens. I don't know how He is capable of taking care of so many children and knowing all of them but I know He does.
Last week we made cheese empanadas at our investigator’s house with Hermana Nuñez and Hermana Chavez. We're in an empanada phase because this week a man we contacted gave us free empanadas. We knocked his door without realizing that they were selling empanadas. He told us to come back on a week day when they didn't have so many orders and sent us off with an empanada. I hope we can teach him but we might go back during dinner just for the empanadas alone. He gave us the most flawless, beautiful shrimp and gouda empanada.
Speaking of fried food... our investigator’s husband gave us a great compliment yesterday. We made a surprise visit to them last night before we went home because we had a few extra minutes and they live near us. They were in the kitchen making papas rellenas. I like seeing them happy together. We talked a little bit and invited them to the upcoming baptism of the teenage boy we are teaching. Our investigator can't wait to be baptized and enter the temple. She said she doesn't think it will be hard for her because she has already done the hardest part. She has been keeping the Word of Wisdom for almost one month now. She has tried to stop smoking before and failed but this time she says it was easy. She thinks it helps that we visit her almost every day. Her husband thinks it is because of the spirit we bring into their home, something he talks about a lot when he sees us. He says there is something that just radiates or emanates from us. He says it is like when someone has been frying food and the smell clings to them. Everyone knows. His wife, who was frying papas rellenas at that very moment said, "They don't smell like fried food." "They know what I mean," he responded. I like his analogy.
Hermana Fullmer is set on coming back to Chile for their sealing. I would love to as well. It's going to be really hard to leave these friends behind when I am transferred or when I finish the mission. They talk about visiting the United States for the American Soccer Cup. I have this fantasy that the Cup is going to be in Utah. I never cared about soccer before but I sure do now if it means that they will visit. I like dreaming about all of the places I would take them to visit, Temple Square (obviously), national parks, etc.
The teenage boy we are teaching attended church and is on track to be baptized this Sunday. We have his interview scheduled with our district leader on Wednesday. We visited yesterday and he hadn't been reading the Book of Mormon so we decided to read with him. I think the last lesson left him feeling a little pressured and he hasn't felt like reading. We started with our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and I shared with him a conversation Hermana Fullmer and I had had moments before in the street as we walked to his house. I had said, "I love the Book of Mormon," and my companion asked me why. After thinking for a few moments I found an answer. One thing I love about the Book of Mormon is that it fulfills its own prophesies. It talks about how these words will come forth in the last days and convince people of Christ. It's our only tool to really convert people. It was written by the ancient ancestors of the people we teach who saw our investigators because they saw our day, they loved them, they still do, and they want to talk to them. The promise is fulfilled as we give this book to everyone and invite them to read it. I love serving in South America. The Book of Mormon means so much more to me. I thought I had a testimony of the Book of Mormon before I served a mission. I had read it several times, studied it every day, went to seminary and two semesters of BYU. When I was still very little I had prayed and received an answer. I knew it was true. I still know. But being here in South America, walking through the streets with the Book of Mormon in hand, and seeing the power it has to change lives is really something else. I feel so privileged that Heavenly Father not only sent me on a mission but that He let me come here and teach descendents of the Book of Mormon civilizations.
Sometimes I share my testimony just because that's what I'm supposed to do but as we conversed with our investigator I shared what I felt was sincere love for the scriptures and his eyes lit up. I knew we had his attention and that he was actually listening, something we had lost with him between when he stopped investigating the church and now. We read Mosiah 26: 15-26 together because that's where his bookmark was. He had good questions and we were able to discuss a few things that he hadn't understood about the restoration and the church in the latter days.
Please pray for him as he will have his interview and be baptized this week. Also for the couple we are teaching. We hope that the husband will be able to be baptized the same day as his wife but we haven't been able to teach him as frequently and aren't sure if we can finish the lessons or if he will be able to attend church due to work. Her son and his girlfriend are going to have a baby this week. They could use prayers as well. We haven't been able to contact the family we have been teaching all this week and are hoping to be able to find a time to meet with them but we have leadership council on Wednesday, district class on Thursday, and a baptism to prepare so this week is going to feel very short.
Well, I love you!
Hermana Eva VanCott
|el Cerro San Cristobal|
The tallest building in South America, apparently