This picture shows the island of “Motu Nui” in the background which is the site of the ancient “birdman competition”. Check it out on “Wikipedia”.
Things are going great! We witnessed so many miracles this week and we had many great experiences! We are going to have a baptism this Saturday, June 1st! We are so excited! His name is Pedro Bacho. He is about 56 years old and was a famous musician. He won the festival of “Viña del Mar” a while ago, which is a really big accomplishment and recently won second place in a national music awards ceremony for his folklore music. Now he has a sickness that keeps him from being able to sing or do much which is sad but it has humbled him and he wants to draw closer to God. He is amazing. He goes to church every week and he is committed to keeping the commandments. He is also very funny.
This whole month has been crazy because about 10 people on the island have died. They all died from different things but when someone dies here, the whole island knows and somehow everyone is related. So everyone goes to the house of the deceased person and they pray and visit with the family. A couple of days ago, a 12-year-old kid passed away and the island was really affected. It is kind of unusual that so many people are dying. I was talking with Richard about it and he says that he believes that the Lord is preparing peoples hearts to be more receptive to his teachings. I believe it. We have seen peoples hearts soften here. We had our best Sunday yesterday! We had 20 people in church and we have 3 investigators that are progressing towards a specific baptismal date! It was so awesome yesterday in church. There were kids and one baby and someone from about every age group. There was a lot of excitement and a different positive vibe. It is so awesome to have little kids in church and even though they are loud and crazy, they balance out the older, more sedate members and investigators. They bring a different energy to the church, which is great. The branch is slowly growing which is very exciting to see.
We had a couple of funny experiences this week. There is this person that was a referral that we have been trying to contact but every time we try to go to the house, the neighbor who owns all of that land comes out and yells at us and tells us to leave his property. We try and tell him that we are trying to see his neighbor and that we don’t want to talk to him but he just yells at us. So this last week we were talking with Pedro and he told us that he was moving to a new house. We asked where and turns out he is moving into the same house as that previous referral!!!!!!!!!!!! So a few days ago, we tried to go see Pedro and before we got close to his house, we ran into the crazy neighbor named “Hopu”. He again told us not to get near his land. So we decided to go see another person. But we went back later and tried to sneak around to the house without being seen, but right as we were entering onto the property, Hopu came from around the corner and I turned around and told my companion to run!! It was pretty funny!
Later in church, we told Pedro about his crazy neighbor and he laughed and said that he knows him and that he is actually really nice. He said that he was going to talk to him for us.
On Sunday, we again taught our investigator that is in jail. His nickname is Chino. He is so awesome. He really misses his daughter and loves his family. We were talking to him and he told us something that shocked me a little. He said that he didn’t want to leave jail. He said that he was scared to go back out into the world. He said that there is too much temptation and he doesn’t want to mess up again. He said that it is so much easier in jail. You don’t have to worry about anything. He said it is safer and easier. I was kind of shocked by that. But he did bring up an interesting point. The world we live in today is slowly getting worse and worse. Temptation and the bad things around us are constantly battering us. A higher level of self-discipline is required. I thought of the scripture that says that in the “last days men’s hearts will fail them”. This man’s heart is failing. He is losing the courage to face the challenges and temptations of life. He is scared of the outside world. We told him that there is a way to keep the protection he feels in jail always with him. It is through obedience to the commandments of God and always having the spirit with him. We explained to him that he could create a safe protected environment inside of himself and always have the spirit with him by living the gospel. We can’t let our outside environment define who we are on the inside. We must be strong and become who God wants us to be regardless of our circumstances.
We found a new investigator this week named Bruno. He is this huge Rapa Nui guy. He is very nice though. One day we had a lesson with him and he answered the door wearing this orange sweatshirt that said county jail on it. We started laughing and asked him where he got it and he said that it was a gift from his friend. We asked him if he knew what it meant and he said no. We also brought the Terrys to this lesson and they were pretty scared when he opened the door. A huge Rapa Nui guy with a county jail sweatshirt on is a little intimidating. It was funny. I am having a blast and learning a ton. It is amazing to watch the work progress here and how God is preparing the people of this island to accept the gospel. Gracias a todos por leer mis cartas!
This week was awesome! It rained a lot this week. It is so crazy because we will be riding our bikes to a lesson and it will be sunny and fine then all of a sudden it will start pouring rain and we will be soaking wet by the time we get to the next house. Then it will be sunny again. It is never cold though which is good!
I had a lot of really good experiences this week. This past week we taught a ton of lessons. It seemed like everyone let us come into their house and teach them. Sometimes when we were in a hurry to get somewhere we would say that we wanted to come back another day and share something, but then the people would say “no, no, no” just come in now and lets talk. It was crazy. I have never taught so many lessons in one week. I guess we have been seeing a lot of hearts being softened. We have recently seen the mission work start to grow rapidly. I think that God is preparing the island for great things.
Yesterday a new member came to church. The crazy thing is that he is not Rapa Nui and he is not Chilean; he is American! He is a student from BYU Hawaii and he is a returned missionary that served in Mexico. He is here doing a thesis paper about culture. He is going to be here for 3 months. He is going to be a great addition to the branch for these three months. He was super excited to help the branch and he even came on a few visits with us yesterday. It is basically like having another missionary here with us. All of the members call him “Elder”. It is really funny.
We had an interesting experience on Saturday. We were riding our bikes to a lesson and this tourist waved us down. So we went over to talk to him. He was nice and introduced himself. He was from Australia and said that he knows a lot of Mormons and always likes talking to them. So we started talking to him. He asked us how it was being a missionary here on the island, etc. Then he started talking to us about the Book of Mormon and how he has studied it and has found a bunch of errors in it. Then he started talking about how we were wasting our time here. He even went so far as to say that the Bible was false and that God was just something made up. He went on and on. He told us about everything that he has studied and all of the places that he has traveled to try and prove Mormons wrong. It was pretty unbelievable. He knew a lot. My companion and I just shared with him our testimonies and invited him to actually read the Book of Mormon and pray and ask God if it is true. He had an excuse for everything and wouldn’t answer our questions. It was a really interesting experience. He basically has dedicated his whole life to proving our beliefs wrong. My companion asked him several good questions: why have you dedicated so much of your life to studying about our religion? If it is false, what is the point in trying to prove it wrong? He wasn’t really able to answer these questions and blabbed on about something. Then my companion said, “you have felt something about this church, haven’t you? You have felt that it is true? Then he got really defensive and said that he has never felt anything in his life. I think that he has felt that what we teach is true and that God does exist but he is just fighting it.
Finally, this week a member of the church shared with us some dreams he was having. Richard Tuki told us a couple of dreams that he recently had and asked us if we could interpret them. It was so cool to listen to these dreams and hear his stories about how his dreams have come true. It is a real testimony that the people on this island matter to our Heavenly Father and that he inspires them through dreams. We are doing great here on Easter Island! We are working hard and seeing many miracles!