7 September 2015
Everyone says to be careful if you pray for patience because you'll have your patience tried. I would also add, be careful if you pray to love people of all religions and you simultaneously start talking about the Book of Mormon with everyone. If you try to flood Los Mares you might have to see some spiritual tsunamis. Hermana Souza and I both agree that we have never met with so much opposition against the church as we have in this week. Normally we talk to people who are Catholics "en mi manera," meaning they believe in God and were baptized when they were babies but are now pretty much indifferent. The more firm religious people usually respect us but tell us they aren't interested, ignore us, or at worst tell us they don't like Mormons, refuse to talk to us and walk away really fast with a scowl. This week, though, let me tell you... It's been weird. People have been accepting appointments for us to go to their houses and their whole family is there. We think they are interested and that it's a miracle. Only their intent is to contend with us and pray that we can change our "flawed" doctrine. And it's been happening every day, several times a day.
Some situations we have handled better than others. One I wasn't proud of was when we talked to a Seventh Day Adventist who works at the gate of an apartment we were entering. The woman we originally went to visit wasn't home so we started talking to him and he started to interrupt us and yell about how we don't keep the Ten Commandments. "What's the fourth commandment?" My mistake was answering his question. I know how to explain that the Sabbath day was changed from Saturday to Sunday after Christ's resurrection but he was not asking a sincere question and I should have known better than to answer. It was contentious until the Jehovah's Witnesses entered and greeted us warmly. We already made friends with them because we always run into them on the street and they share scriptures with us. Now the man at the gate will probably think we're part of their congregation...
As we walked away from that conversation I didn't feel like we handled it well. We stopped and said a prayer right there in the street to find sincere seekers of truth and be able to share our message with them with more respect and love. Our very next contact was an answer to that prayer. We contacted a man who believes that there is truth in all of the religions. I said we agreed and then talked about the Restoration. We told the story of Joseph Smith right there in front of his apartment and he thought it was interesting. We explained the Book of Mormon and gave him a copy. He was shocked. "Really?" he asked. "Really." We committed him to read the introduction and set an appointment to meet with him and his family on Tuesday. I hope the lesson goes well but just making that contact made me feel better because we sincerely listened to him, he listened to us and understood what we told him and is willing to hear more.
That's just one example from a span of fifteen minutes of this week. I have been here for a year and have never met so many hostile people in my life as I have in this week. I also have never felt so good about the receptive contacts because the Book of Mormon really helps them understand that our message is something different and something good.
We have been finding lots of good families, though, and need to follow up with all of them and put them with baptismal dates.
Some funny things from this week. An employee at one of the apartment gates called the less active we were going to visit to make sure they were home and give us permission to enter. He couldn't pronounce my name so he told them "The feminine Elders are here to see you."
Other funny moment. Ropa Americana: the clothes people buy in the fair from the U.S. They never know what they're wearing but I do. We were eating lunch with a family and the ex boyfriend of one of them was there to visit his daughter for the weekend. He was wearing a Wicked shirt. His daughter was watching Oz. I told him, "You know, they made a musical of this story. It was on Broadway recently... and you're wearing the T-shirt." He had no idea. "I just like to buy the black shirts with white letters," he responded. He started to do something on his phone and Hermana Souza's guess is that he was googling Wicked. A few moments later he commented that it was starting to get cold and went and put on a hoodie. Other good shirts are Mitt Romney campaign shirts, Oscar's Senior Prom shirt, and the ward mission leader's shirt in Llay LLay that has bad words on it. None of them know what kind of message they are sending to the gringa missionary.
Have a great week!
Hermana Eva VanCott