May 5, 2009 Visit to Chungara (4500 m = 14,764 ft)
I'm back! I'm betting you thought that I forgot to email you, but don't worry. I'm still alive. Today, we had an activity where we drove in a bus for 4 hours, visited the lake Chungará, and then we returned 4 hours. It was fun. ;) It reminded me of all our trips to Idaho where we drove one day, stayed a day, and drove back. Ah, the memories...
Chungará is at an elevation of 4500 meters, which is really high. Especially since we started at sea level. There were a lot of sick missionaries in the bus, and one missionary (my good friend) fell on the ground when we left the bus and started convulsing. And he's not epileptic. But, all is well, and no one died. We just took pictures, walked around for a while, and played with the llamas. In the bus, we watched Remember the Titans and Narnia. It went great! But now, we really don't have much time before we have to go to our first appointment. So, wish me luck!
This week was really tough, but there has to be trials in this life, especially after all of the blessings my companion and I have received. We had 8 people ready to be baptized the 9th of May, but 4 of the baptisms fell through. One didn't recieve her permission to get married when she thought she would (so we just have to postpone the baptism), one man still has a few doubts and doesn't feel the tranquility that he wants (though we know he will also be baptised soon), and two young boys that we are teaching lost permission from their mom. The worst part about the last case is that the mom is also a member of the church, inactive, who once worked in the temple! And now, she doesn't even remember how to pray! She told us that she will not allow her sons to be baptized until they are 18, or if we can somehow teach their father and help him accept the gospel too (he doesn't live with them). This made my companion and I really sad, especially to see the disappointment in Estéfano and Jovani, the two sons. But, we know that we did all that we could, and we'll keep on working with these children (Estéfano is 11 and Jovani is 9). And, maybe we can help their father!
But still, even with the disappointments that come in this life, I will never be disappointed in myself. I know that I did all I can, and everyone in this life has their agency to choose. I just pray that the people I teach will remember the spirit they felt and return to learn the truth again someday!
Still, there are tons of miracle in this great missionary work every day. And, we still have 4 people who are going to be baptized on Saturday! One of the miracles that my companion and I witnessed is when we were teaching Maritza, the mom of Ricardo (a 28 year old convert of 3 years who just returned from a full time, 2-year mission). We were teaching her months ago but saw no progress. Right when her son returned, we saw her understanding of the gospel increase along with her testimony. Though she was a little fearful of accepting a baptismal date, last week she did! She now tells us that she is SO happy and excited to be baptized this Saturday by the hands of her son, Ricardo. Wow, it was a true miracle! And, this past Saturday, we had a barbeque (asado) at their house, and it was incredible! Mmmm, the blessings of being a missionary... :)
Well, I guess that's about it for today. I love you all, and I will talk to you on Sunday!!!!