I know that it´s fun to live on an island and everything, but ay mi madre, the heat and humidity are a killer! Funny to think that I used to be the person to sleep with 5 or 6 blankets every night; now I just sleep on top of a sheet haha:) So in all that calor this week, we did a ton of contacting! Yay for giving people the chance to accept the gospel! Rafael ended up being out of town for work, so we didn´t teach him, but Hermana Ventocilla and I worked on strengthening relationships with members, which was awesome. We also got to give a talk together at the baptism of Henry, an 8-year-old son of a member family.
Yesterday, we had the most people in church that I've ever seen in the Bella Vista ward! Recently, nearly all of the organization presidencies changed, and the ward is already improving with the new callings. The members are also recognizing their lack of unity and are trying to improve it. In ward council yesterday, we made a game plan for obtaining references of new people to teach. In this area, it is an absolute miracle to get a reference--it's one of the best ways to find people who are interested in hearing about the gospel and are prepared to accept it.
The youth all had EFY this week, and wow, you can totally see the change in them (it's only once ever four years here, like trek in the States). It was so sweet to hear them share their experiences and testimonies in church yesterday, especially from Daniel and Stalin Martinez and another less-active boy. The best, though, was that a recent convert brought a non-member friend to EFY, and she (the friend) spoke in front of the whole ward about how incredible it was! She doesn't live in our ward boundaries, so we can't teach her, but I hope that the missionaries in her area can help her prepare to be baptized:) Oh, and guess what? Patricia came to church again, 2 weeks in a row, whoot whoot!! Plus, Victor Martinez blessed the sacrament yesterday!! It's amazing to see how much stronger and worthier these brothers have become:)
Okay, sad news: Yennel dropped us on Friday. She's the one who was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and married a Jew, so we got to help her learn about the real nature of Christ. She simply won't accept that there's only one true church and that salvation requires more than just faith and love. It was super sad. You'd think that after the rejection we face day after day, I'd be numb to it by now. But I still care. I still hope that someone will see something different in us, will give us a few minutes to explain what we believe, will have a desire to learn and change and progress, and will have the courage to take the necessary steps back to our Heavenly Father's presence.
I want so badly to help these people gain a testimony of this amazing gospel. That's what we talked about in a family home evening this week with an inactive member named Yoanny. A testimony is like a flashlight. You can shine that light to help guide those without their own...for a time. Those without their own light can't depend on yours forever, or they won't progress. When we do things to fuel our own light, like obeying the commandments, our glow becomes brighter, we have greater knowledge and confidence, and then we can help others as they work to obtain their own light. It's a process of a lifetime, because if we don't keep nurturing that tender testimony, it will be scorched, and because it has no root, it will wither away (Mark 4: the parable of the sower). My wise mother taught me that someone doesn't leave the church because they got offended or had a trial that was "too hard"--it's really because their testimony wasn't deep enough. All of the work that I've done with less- and inactive members on my mission has proved that to be true. Maybe for family home evening funness, read Doctrine and Covenants 76:50-70 about what happens to those who have a real testimony:) But for now, I'd like to add my testimony that that of the millions of souls who have learned for themselves that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, Ultimate Judge, and the Savior of the world, as found in Doctrine and Covenants 76:22:
"And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!"
Con muchisimo amor,
-My best buddy:)
-I have absolutely no idea how BYU fabric ended up in this country, but someone made a little dress out of it, ha!