We had a lot of pretty cool experiences this week! We keep having amazing lessons with Roman and Karol! We had our first Family Home Evening with them and they invited a lot of their family members. It was awesome. A member that came with us shared a message from the “Liahona” (Spanish version of the Ensign) that talked about how sharing the Gospel with family and friends brings happiness. It was perfect. Then Roman and Karol bore their testimonies to their family members sharing that the church is true and that it has made a big difference in their lives! And they aren’t even members yet! It was awesome.
I attended a “Leadership Council” meeting this week in Santiago. It took all day to travel to Santiago and then the conference went long and we got back late. It wasn’t a super exciting meeting but I learned some new things I would like to try.
One of the coolest experiences this week occurred last Sunday. We have an investigator named Jose. He is 16 years old and lives with his mom and a bunch of other people. Their family situation is very tough because his dad is in jail. They also live in a very dangerous part of San Felipe. So we went the other day to visit him because he hasn’t been coming through with his commitments. We invited him to church. He said that he would go. So on Sunday, we were waiting in church and during the Sacrament he walks in with his four little cousins. They all are 5 and 6 years old. So he led them in and he looked like a mother duck with her ducklings. It was funny! The other funny thing is that he was wearing a hat that said, “I love weed”. Ha! He has no idea what the message on his hat means. So they sat down and listened. Even the little kids listened. Then they all went to classes afterward and loved it. In the primary, the little cousins colored pictures and after the meetings I told them to give them to their mom. After church we went to visit them and the mom loved the pictures and I hope that it softened her heart a little. We also invited Jose to be baptized and he accepted so we are going to be working hard with him. We really are going to focus on the responsibility he has when he makes the covenant to get baptized. We have been really focusing on this to prepare people well so that they don’t immediately turn into “recent converts” and then “less active” members.
After church on Sunday, we traveled to a little town called Curimon to eat lunch with a member. This member is from Russia. It was interesting. She has a thick accent and it is hard to understand her when she speaks Spanish. She made us a Russian meal. It was very different but I liked it. It was a soup with meat and then she poured condensed milk on it, which was weird. Then we ate rice with shellfish. She is very, very nice and has a crazy life story. She is about 60 years old and has lived in Chile for about 20 years on and off. Those are the crazy stories from my week!
I don’t have a lot of time. We went to Santiago today and it’s about 2 hours away. So when we got back here, I had only 30 minutes to read and respond to emails.
This week was really good! We found a new investigator named Francisco. He is 35 years old and not married. He is very smart and has studied a lot. He loves spiritual things and has tried out many different religions. He is a Free Mason and he is very interesting to talk with. He loves the Book of Mormon because he once studied Buddhism and supposedly there is a belief that Christ visited to Tibet. He thought it was very probable that Christ visited the Americas. The difficult thing is that he doesn’t want to join a specific church. He read 1st and 2nd Nephi in just 5 days and liked it. He said that everyday he reads and asks God in prayer if the book is true. He said that he hasn’t received an answer. The problem is that I don’t feel he has real intent or the faith to act if prompted to do so. For example, Joseph Smith prayed to know which church to join (indicating that he would act on the answer) rather than praying to know which church was “right”. So once he changes and has real intent to follow the answer that God gives him, then God will answer his prayer. So we hope he will change.
Roman and Karol are progressing well! They went to church and stayed for the second hour for the first time and loved it. They left their kids in Primary and everything. They just need to get married!!!!! There have been a lot of tremors recently and there was an earthquake in northern Chile that we felt a little. It has been interesting. I am doing great!
Well this week was another great one! We had some great spiritual experiences and many funny ones, too. On Monday night, we had an intense lesson with a “Jehovah’s Witness” that we have been teaching. We finally got to the point where I asked him to read the Book of Mormon to know if it is true and he denied the invitation and didn’t want the book. So we bore testimony and he attacked our beliefs and then we left. When we arrived back at our house, my companion was shaken up a little bit because it was his first real experience with having someone attack his faith and attempt to bring him down. But we prayed for strength and he gave one of the best prayers that I have ever heard in my life and blessed our investigator that he would have a softer heart in the future and accept the blessings of the gospel in his life. It was awesome.
We had one of the best lessons of my mission with Roman and Karol. They are the couple we have been encouraging to get their life in order. So we started to read the Book of Mormon with them and we talked and shared impressions. Then Roman opened up and bore his testimony. He said that he knew that it was all true: the church, the Gospel, the Book of Mormon. Everything. He said that he prayed and received his answer and said he felt the spirit. He also said that the only thing he wanted to do was get baptized and receive the full blessings of the gospel. My companion and I were basically jumping up and down like little girls inside. That is what you always want your investigators to say but it happens very, very rarely! So we were so excited! Then he kept going and said, “Elder Neser, don’t tell me what I need to do now because I know what I need to do.” Then he looked at Karol and said to her that she needed to start reading the Book of Mormon and praying more and show more initiative in reading with him and as a family. Then he said that he wants to get baptized which means that he wants to marry her and in the lesson basically asked her to marry him. She was crying and said yes. It was insane! Then to end the lesson, Karol gave the closing prayer and bore her testimony and said that she knew it was all true and that she wanted to get baptized and be able to live for all eternity with her family. Everything came together and finally they figured it out. Missionaries have been visiting them for about a year now! So that was like the coolest thing ever from my week. But Karol and Roman didn’t go to church on Sunday so that confused me. But we are going to keep teaching them and helping them to understand everything.
We also did a fast this week to find more people that will help build up the church here in our ward (which means men and families). So we are praying to be able to find some people in the coming weeks. A member shared a really cool quote in church on Sunday about repentance. He said: “There will always be a tomorrow, but I am in the present, and NOW is when I have to start to change.” Those are the important things from my week.
This week was a very “grape filled” week! My area is in the region of Chile where there are lots and lots of vineyards. And at this time of the year, everyone is working in the vineyards. So they bring back tons of grapes. Members and investigators and contacts just give us grapes to try or take home. The grapes here are so good. They have some that are huge and different colors. So we are getting fat off of grapes!
It was a great first week with my new companion! He is awesome and we get a long very well. We finally started to find some people. When I was with my previous companion, we couldn’t find anybody. This week, we also had some great lessons with some of our investigators.
The highlight of the week was on Saturday. We went to Santiago to a meeting with the four missions of Santiago, Chile. I saw Elder Lythgoe again, which was awesome!!! The meeting was unbelievably good. Elder David F. Evans from the quorum of the seventy, who is the director of missionary work worldwide spoke. There was another Area Seventy that translated. We thought that a lot of people were going to talk because it was a four hour meeting but no! Elder Evans just blasted all the missionaries of Santiago for four hours. He basically pointed out the things that the missionaries are doing wrong here in Chile and what we need to do better. It was awesome because he was very bold and direct and said what needed to be said. His whole talk inspired me to change things and be bolder with everyone.
So when we got back to our area, we went to visit 3 homes. The members in two of these homes were “less active” and we just gave powerful lessons on how they needed to take the sacrament. Then we ended the day visiting Roman who is our investigator that was progressing very well, then went back to living with his girlfriend and therefore can’t get baptized. So we went with “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and shared it with them. They have two kids. We were bold and told them that they needed to follow the words of the prophets to save their family. They were touched and Karol, the girlfriend, was crying and said that they needed this lesson and Roman committed to going to church with his whole family. They all went on Sunday morning. It was so awesome!
So now we have this new vision of what we need to do as missionaries and we are pumped. There is one last funny thing I’d like to share. When someone speaks in another language that isn’t their native language they obviously have an accent. What I have noticed is that people tend to have accents according to the country their ancestors came from. Chileans speak English pretty well because they are exposed here to a lot of people of European descent. This whole week my companion has been telling me that I don’t speak like an American but like a German. And it is funny because my companion is from Peru but he doesn’t have the common Latin accent when he speaks English. He has a German accent when he speaks English and I think it is because his great-grandpa is German. I am sure there is an ancestor connection here. That’s my week!