August 2, 2010 (Zoo in Copiapó and BBQ on beach)
I'm sending some pictures from last week and this week. Last week, we went to Copiapó, and as a district, we went to the zoo. It was a lot of fun! Today, we went to Caldera, which has some of the most beautiful beaches in Chile. We took pictures and had fun with both of the zones from Copiapó. We also had a little barbecue on the beach. We went to the most famous beach in Caldera, Bahía Inglesa, and it was completely empty because we're still in winter and the water is way too cold to swim!
Well, it has been a truly amazing week in Diego de Almagro, but a week of patience and continued perseverance. We worked a lot with our recent converts and members of the branch, and when we went out doing contacts, we were rejected straight out. Elder Duerden at one point turned to me and asked, "Why do they hate us so much?" I was a little taken back, and then I remembered something that I had been pondering on before. I told him, "They hated Him before they hated us. Our Heavenly Father allows us to be tried and tested that we might exercise faith in Him, and as we do so, we come to understand just a little more of what Jesus Christ did for us. So, let's just thanks our Heavenly Father for allowing us to have trials, because it just means that He has confidence in us." After a difficult week, my companion and I felt at peace, for we knew that we had worked diligently and effectively. We were brought down to our knees, pleading to our Heavenly Father for help and guidance to find His children that need our help. I know that this week will be miraculous; I have no doubt. We will continue in faith and patience, focusing our efforts on the needs of the branch and our investigators. This is what the Lord expects of us.
Sacrament Meeting was a little strange, but it gave me and my companion a good laugh. I asked a less active sister to give the opening prayer, and when she stood up to give it, she stood at the pulpit and started out: "Good morning, brothers and sisters, I want to start out by giving thanks to God for this Mass that we have..." She continued and spoke a bit of her unstable activity in the church and many other topics. I didn't know if I should open my eyes and stop her or to just have patience! Luckily, she ended "In the name of Jesus Christ, amen," so it wasn't a total disaster. Then, as we got into the testimony meeting, a few sisters got up and told story after story, taking up all the time for our little branch. The same sister who gave the prayer got up and told a strange story of when of how the gospel satisfied her thirst, literally. She spoke of her ex-husband and how he cheated on her, and through many events, she ended up walking for many miles, finding a bottle of unopened water by a rock given to her by God to help her continue her journey see with her own eyes that her husband was cheating on her. It was the foundation of her testimony.
Needless to say, we had a nice little talk in our Sunday School class about testimonies and meetings at church. It was more for our new converts -- we don't want them to be confused at what a testimony is and how it should be given. I sure hope that we cleared up all the doubts without offending anyone who shared their testimony, but I guess this is just one of the challenges of working in a developing branch like this one. :) I just feel blessed to have been raised in a family rooted in the Gospel and to help my brothers and sisters here in the Diego de Almagro branch. I am also grateful for an awesome companion who gets to share my responsibilities and burdens!
Well, I guess I should wrap up this email now. I really love all of you and pray for you every day. I still can't believe that I'll be ending my mission in just 2 months, but I'll make sure I'm focused and keep doing what the Lord expects of me!