Well this week has definitely been some experiences that I won't ever forget. Last week we started off with a zone study. It went pretty well. We taught the zone about some things that President brought to the zone leaders in the mission. It is mainly about how enduring to the end needs to be the goal of all of our lessons and teaching. It also had a lot to do about what he called "not one or the other." People in the mission always are asking are we supposed to have lots of baptisms or really good quality ones, or are we supposed to work with less actives or nonmembers? Elder Plowman and I came up with some other similar questions to illustrate president's point like: is Superman fast or strong? In football, should you have a good offense or a good defense?...things like that that just prove that you can't have one without the other. Our job is to do both, and both less active work and baptisms fulfill our purpose especially in Utah. We also presented the standards of excellence to the mission which everyone responded well to. A couple of people said that they are happy "we are finally a real mission!"
So other than that, I can't remember much about the week except our two investigators, Ana and Angel. Well, there is no happy ending with them. Last week on Friday, we had a lesson with them. They were interviewed for baptism and both very easily passed-no problems. Ana still wasn't sure about it, but Angel was, so we had him kneel down right there and pray for the Lord to touch her heart, and he did. She felt the Spirit and said she knew it was from God. She still was being stubborn and wouldn't give us a straight yes, even after saying yes in the interview, but she said if it's God's will, she would get baptized.
Then we went on Saturday night and showed up and randomly out of nowhere Angel gave us a huge no. He said he didn't want to at all. After like thirty minutes, he said it was, because he felt guilty like we were pushing Ana into something she didn't want to do. After the best lesson of Elder Plowman and my entire mission-for like an hour-we resolved from concerns. He said he wasn't feeling excited and joyful like he felt like he should. He did however feel like he had repented of all his sins and God had answered his prayers and changed him and his wife. We talked about a couple things. The first thing we said was that Satan was going to attack him as he does to all of us before we do anything important just like he did to us before our missions or to the Savior before his earthly ministry. Then he said he didn't feel happy or joyful (no me siento a gusto). At this point, we were concerned that he had gotten so many answers and wouldn't accept them from God. We said that Jesus Chirst wasn't happy (no se sentia a gusto tampoco) at all when he had to die for their sins, but he did the will of the Father. Angel was making the first step toward being a disciple of Christ which isn't always an easy or joyful thing …without any tribulation or difficulty. Then turned to The Doctrine & Covenants section six and said that the Lord had spoken peace to his mind and what greater testimony could he have than one from God? Then we said that maybe he was having all this tribulation sorrow and sin added up on top of him today (Saturday) so that Jesus Christ could take it from him tomorrow. He said that made sense. and in an hour, he was completely changed.
We realized what the real concern was. They had made decisions individually but had never made the decision to get baptized together...to do it for their family. They looked at each other and knew that that was what they were missing. They agreed to pray together that night and were excited for their baptism the next day. We had had some of their friends with us that night who are Elder Plowman's recent converts from Washington Terrace. They had been teaching with us and encouraging them to be baptized. (They are the Jacobo family.) So they had friends to support them, a witness from God, had repented, been declared worthy by a disciple of Christ (several actually), and made their decision. We were happy and left Saturday to make some visits.
On our way home that night, we stopped by again and Ana was out running some errands, but Angel was at home and said he was at peace and excited to pray with her that night and get baptized the next day.
THEN the story gets interesting. So that night, Elder Plowman wrote down everything that happened since it was such an awesome lesson. We called Elder Ward and Elder Pyne, and they got a ride set up to come down for their baptism. We said several prayers thanking Heavenly Father for letting us be a part of their conversion. I said a million prayers in tears before bed that night for letting me finally be able to take part in the conversion of a family. I think that was one of the highest points of my mission. The next morning, Elder Plowman went to ward council, and I went with another missionary to wake people up for church. The first stop was Ana and Angel. They didn't answer the door which was weird, because I could hear them inside. SO we did our visits, and I went and got Elder Plowman.
With a little more worry, we went to get them again this time about ten minutes before church started. We knocked for five minutes straight and could hear them, but they wouldn't open. We went out front and yelled to five-year-old José to come open the door. Then finally, Angel came down, and we asked if he had been asleep. He said no he wasn't asleep. He said he didn't want to get baptized and wanted to be Catholic. Before we could ask why, he walked away, and Ana came down. She came outside and said she had no idea what happened. I guess the night before when we went by to visit and she was ‘running errands’- that had been a lie. When we left the lesson, he yelled at her, and she left to go for a drive to get away from him. Then when she got home that night, he said he didn't want to talk to her for two days and she couldn’t figure out why. He hadn't been drinking; we are positive about that. We called him down again, and he came down and said he wanted to stay catholic and didn't want to talk to us, because we would just convince him to do something he doesn't want to do then he walked away. Then Ana said they still hadn't prayed together. So we told her to go kneel down next to him and start to pray. We waited on the stairs for her (now very late to sacrament). We sat down and prayed harder than I ever have for a miracle....because of my limited faith in Jesus Christ I begged for the Lord to "help thou my unbelief" and let my faith be enough. But she came out, and it wasn't enough. He was fed up and wouldn't talk to her. We asked her if she would get baptized alone, and she wasn't sure she had enough faith to do that and knew he would just get mad at her. She said she would try to talk to him, and we should come back after church.
By this time, we had missed sacrament so we went to the church building and got the sacrament from the next meeting and just sat on the couch not really able to talk or say anything to each other. Then we told the ward that there would be no baptism so they could announce it for third hour and went back to see Ana. Angel answered the door. He said Ana had left to go to catholic church. He was going to stay catholic. We asked him why, and he wouldn't tell us why. He said he didn't care and didn't want to listen. He said it with a smile on his face like he was happy he was hurting us. Then he said thanks for what you taught me and shut the door.
This morning we found out that later that day during the time of their baptism, they went over to the recent converts house (the Jacobo’s), who were their felloshippers, and started drinking again.
So Sunday was probably the lowest point of my mission. We went home and just laid down and didn't know what to do. We had both been dropped before, but never like that and never by someone that we loved so much. We had spent the last nine weeks begging and praying for the Lord to help them and using every role play, training, revelation to help them progress and then just like that; it was gone. I couldn't really decide to feel angry or sad. Either way, we knew we didn't want to keep working that day. We knew that we loved the Lord, so of course we would be obedient and still work the next day, but at least for then, we were done for the day.
We ended up talking to president that night. Elder Ward called president and told him to call us. Elder Ward is President’s favorite missionary, so we went and talked to President for a little. He told us to get some sleep then go back to work, essentially. SO Elder Plowman and I were mainly wondering what on earth we were supposed to learn from that. I guess neither of us had a testimony that "no effort is wasted" and wondered why we had spent all that time for nothing. I think that's still what I am wondering is why we spent all that time doing that. All we can think about is how now they won't get sealed in the temple or how José won't be a missionary one day. Angel even told us Saturday night he and Ana would serve a couple's mission one day and were excited to do baptisms for the dead. Usually we would assume it was family, but Ana and Angel aren't close with their families even a little bit. Ana told us Sunday morning she had been amazed Angel had let us in in the first place at all. With everything that happened, I almost wonder if he has a dual personality or something. Either way, we know we can't go back and talk to them. President said he felt like that was the best thing, and I agree. I know it happens all the time, but for some reason, it hurt a lot worse this time it happened.
Other than that, Liz kept going with her job and will work on Sundays. Vanessa was going to come, but then went to the canyon instead. Kristina and Jairo have been no-where to be found up until yesterday. We did teach several less actives last week, being excited about President’s new push for less actives, but not one of them came to church out of like eight that said they would.
So yeah this has been a ROUGH WEEK. I knew this would happen, but it doesn't make them anymore fun. Studying this morning, I guess I just need to be patient and not let Satan win. I guess I just still feel so unsuccessful and defeated. Especially after how happy I was to finally baptize a family, and now we really have no investigators. We found another woman this week who wants to get baptized, but her crazy husband won't let her. She is the only new person and is an investigator from a long time ago.
So Elder Plowman and I are figuring out what to do right now. Keep knocking? or just pray harder? Not really sure. We did visit all those less actives though, yesterday and weren't in the mood for excuses. There is one lady I feel bad about; we were kind of hard on her, but we just weren't in the mood for anything. She said that she didn't go, because her seven year old didn't want to. After some questions, the real reason was that she wanted to go down to Sandy for the day. So we talked about how Jesus died for her, and what she said to him by not going to church like He asked her to. She has some family she wants to get baptized for, and I reminded her how they must have felt when she didn't go to church, that they are still waiting for salvation in the spirit world and after months of encouragement from the bishop and missionaries she wasn't going to church. So she started crying and said that the night before she had a dream she saw her mom, and her mom was angry at her, and she didn't know why. We told her it was, because her mom was mad that her daughter still wouldn't get up on Sunday and go to church so she can get baptized for her. I think she will go to church this Sunday. Despite being harsh, we showed a huge increase of love after, so it was an effective rebuke this time.
Then we went to the Ortuno family, and wow, my patience was not ready for that either. The husband has been active for years, but the kids (all in their 20's and living at home) and the mom didn't go to church and haven't for years. The wife throws a fit and judges people for everything. As soon as we asked, she started saying how her husband never even says his prayers, and he is a hypocrite and going off on others mistakes like a ten-year-old. So we read her some 3 Nephi 13 and, probably more strongly than needed, invited her to quit judging her husband and cast the dumb beam out of her own eye! Luckily she didn't get offended. Then we turned to the husband and asked why he didn't pray with his family like he promised he would, and he said it was just laziness. So we said we weren't going to take these excuses anymore, and they were going to pray together that night and quit fighting about everything like children. (Can you tell we were on edge?) We managed to show some increase of love after and talked about what happened on Sunday, and how all we wanted to do was help people, but if they never kept their commitments we were all just wasting our time. They understood, and I think they humbled down at least a little bit. But wow Sister Ortuno is a tough lady to handle. Maybe we will sing them ‘Love at Home’ tomorrow when we have another lesson. Their kids, on the other hand, stopped going a couple years ago, because their mom was judging them for sinning and still going to church. So they don't want to go back, because their mom is so mean to them.
Well other than that not much has happened. I realize how depressing this is so next week I will have to be extra optimistic in my letter. I guess I'm just not feeling it today. I still do have a testimony-don't worry everyone-but, I guess today I learned that "salvation is not a cheap experience." But in all seriousness, any family advice/pep talk would be great, because my companion and I are emotionally/spiritually/physically exhausted.
This week I did go on exchanges with Elder Gray. He is excited to be with a companion that treats him with respect now and is doing well. He is a little awkward with door contacts, but I tried to teach him as much as I could.
On the bright side of things, I still have a very cute niece.
Love you all,