Monday, September 23, 2013

Halfway mark! :-/

So weird. Wednesday is my halfway mark. Weird. Weird. Weird.

I have never eaten so much meat in my entire life. All week long, we ate and ate....and ate.....and ate......and ate. We ate in every single lesson, family home evening...even when we passed by to just say hello to someone, they gave us a slab of meat or 6 scoops of ice cream. Seriously. I have never eaten so much in my entire life....and they STILL continue to Celebrate. ¡Feliz 18 de Septiembre por dos semanas! They had a big fire work show over the bay and it wassooo pretty! Hermana Castleton and I sung that National Anthem and pretended it was the 4th of July.

Here in Coquimbo for September 18, there is a place called El Pompilla, where EVERYONE camps out and stays there ALL week long. It is about 10 minutes or so from our house by taxi, so literally, our area was a ghost town. 
I am pretty sure we only had about 10 lessons this week and the only investigators we saw were Ana Maria and a couple named Maria y Guillermo that the missionaries have been working with for months now. FINALLY, Maria y Guillermo kept their first commitment and are starting to progress a little bit.

Last night we had another incredible lesson with Ana Maria. When we got to her house, she had made us crepes with Jim Croce lightly playing in the background. It was a beautiful evening to say the least :) I swear Ana Maria is Morrie from Tuesday's with Morrie. I have never met someone who understands the purpose of this life better than this girl. She is my hero and will forever be an inspiration. Every time we see her, I tell her to write a book because it would be a unreal. She makes me happy and is SO prepared for this gospel!!!!....but doesn't want to join any church. Just like you said Dad, I'll just keep bearing my testimony and hopefully one day, she'll come around.

We spent a lot of time with the members this week because there wasn't anyone to teach! The branch had a huge activity on Tuesday night that was a riot! Hermana Castleton and I helped with the games for all the little kids. We even participated in a race that they invented where two people have to try and get a piece of candy out of a bowl of water without using their hands, and then immediately after, with a very wet face, try to get a piece of candy out of a bowl of flower without using your hands. It was disgusting to say the least.....
We did a million service projects this week and painted every one's fences. I love the members here. They are becoming my family and I love them.

Yesterday, I gave a talk in church on la conversiòn personal. Aka. personal conversion. See? Spanish isn't that hard :)
I studied a talk that Elder Bednar gave last October Conference about how testimony and conversion work together. I would love to attach a copy of my talk,'s in Spanish and I don't know how much of it you would understand. I could write it out...but instead, I'll just attach a part from Elder Bednar's talk that I really liked....
An important lesson about the connection between testimony and conversion is evident in the missionary labors of the sons of Mosiah.
“As many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, … as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away. For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more. Now, these are they who were converted unto the Lord.” Alma 23:6-8

Two major elements are described in these verses: (1) the knowledge of the truth, which may be interpreted as a testimony, and (2) converted unto the Lord, which I understand to be conversion to the Savior and His gospel. Thus, the powerful combination of both testimony and conversion unto the Lord produced firmness and steadfastness and provided spiritual protection.
They never did fall away and surrendered “the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more.” To set aside cherished “weapons of rebellion” such as selfishness, pride, and disobedience requires more than merely believing and knowing. Conviction, humility, repentance, and submissiveness precede the abandonment of our weapons of rebellion. Do you and I still possess weapons of rebellion that keep us from becoming converted unto the Lord? If so, then we need to repent now.

Note that the Lamanites were not converted to the missionaries who taught them or to the excellent programs of the Church. They were not converted to the personalities of their leaders or to preserving a cultural heritage or the traditions of their fathers. They were converted unto the Lord—to Him as the Savior and to His divinity and doctrine—and they never did fall away.

A testimony is spiritual knowledge of truth obtained by the power of the Holy Ghost. Continuing conversion is constant devotion to the revealed truth we have received—with a heart that is willing and for righteous reasons. Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion. We should know the gospel is true and be true to the gospel.

Last night, I sat in bed for quite some time, thinking about how I am half way done with my mission and all that I've learned until now. There have been many important lessons, experiences and even miracles that I've seen up until now, but the coolest has been to see how much my testimony has grown and to see MY personal conversion. There are so many things that I want to add and change for when I get home. If you're wanting to have a conversion, a mission is a great place to do so. 

They say that your testimony is strengthened the more you share it....and when that's all you're doing all day, everyday, it's bound to happen. Tay, Becca, Cam...I challenge all three of you to bear your testimony the next Fast Sunday and write me about your experience. Even if you have to stand up one after the other, I know it'll bless your little bum cheeks and make you happy. I love that last quote of Elder Bednar, "We should know the gospel is true AND be true to the gospel." Sharing our testimony is a great way that we can be true to this gospel. 
We still don't know about changes. I have a good feeling my BFF Hermana Castleton is going to leave me. If she goes, I will be okay. It has been an incredible change and I have learned countless things from this girl. She is the epitome of love and humility and really has helped me change my perspective and outlook on the mission. 
Okay. I am off. 

Keep up the good work. 

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