October 24, 2016
So I developed a bit of a cold, so that was fun trying to continue doing missionary work without appearing sick. I did use it as an excuse to take a few naps because your immune system can't work if you aren't getting enough sleep. I got Elder Sotomarino sick as well, so we were quite the happy campers.
Let me give y'all the rundown on missionary work here in Arkansas with Hispanics:
So Hispanics are usually more open and inviting then most white people, which is nice, but I must admit I'm tired of hearing the saying, "pero soy Católico..." (but I'm Catholic) as an excuse. Well that's all nice and dandy sir or ma'am, but guess what the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is for Catholics too. Congratulations. Good for you. But do you wanna be Catholic or do you want to receive all the blessings of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ? Dad, you were completely right about these people, what you said would happen, happened in my first week. We taught a couple named José and María (we joked and asked them if they had a son named Jesus), we taught them the restoration and they absolutely 100% agreed with every word that came out of our mouths. They agreed that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that baptism could only be done through proper Priesthood authority which had been restored through Joseph Smith, so we were thinking, well this is great. When we invited them to be baptized: "Well we're Catholic and we don't want to change." No but guys...you just said 30 seconds ago... "We've already been baptized..." yes as Catholics but so has anyone who's ever taken a shower or gotten caught in the sprinklers..."Have a nice day, God Bless." .... what just happened... I'm convinced I've heard and seen it all.
Also, another thing about Hispanics: they are always working. Seven days a week. So, it is difficult to set appointments because so many of our investigators are never home. Also, many of them work graveyard shifts. So, that makes it...yeah, basically impossible. And when we do catch them at home, they are completely exhausted from work and the last thing they want is to hear a knock at their door. (Side note, people here in the south go to bed at around 8:30 so knocking doors after dinner hasn't been very successful.) Here's something you should know about our branch here in Russellville. The Spanish branch has nearly 60 members, 8 of those members are regularly active. No that was not a typo. Thankfully, we have 4 core families who are very strong in the church and keep the branch still existent: the Roque family (recent converts, the Espinoza family (who are planning on moving to Utah) the Barrerá family (our branch mission leaders) and then Branch President Hernandez who counts as a family because he's a champ. They are awesome and I love them to death, all the wives make amazing Mexican food. But because the wives are always taking care of children and the home, and the husbands are always working, we have not been able to teach one lesson with a member. Not one. We are starting to get chewed out by our district and zone leaders for that. Rightfully so. Members make such a big difference.
Yesterday in Sacrament meeting I started to get hopeful because all of the talks were relating to missionary work, and one brother got up and said that the branch couldn't expect the missionaries to do it on their own and that everyone needed to be a missionary. So after the meeting we asked him to teach with us that night, to which he agreed. That night he never answered our texts or phone calls. So we went to our appointment alone. Only to have our investigator tell us he didn't have time to meet with us. It really feels like the world is against this little Russellville Branch growing.
Also we were supposed to baptize an investigator Saturday. On Wednesday, our investigator
Miguél passed his baptismal interview, but then Friday told us he wasn't ready. Both Elder Anaya and Elder Sotomarino said they'd never seen anything like it before. We met with Miguél Saturday and sat down with him at the ward building. We had the Roque, Espinoza and Barrera family come over and then bear their testimonies to him, and then we all played basketball together, so I don't know if that counts as a member lesson or not. But everything went really well and Miguél said he still wanted to be baptized and we had fun playing ball and we thought everything was okay. Then Sunday when we called him to come to church he hung up on us and never showed up. We tried to go see him yesterday afternoon but his mom told us he had gone to the gym. So yeah that was a pretty rough turn of events. McKay, you were right this is the hardest thing I've ever done. As Elder Holland said: " If you're doing it right it will be the hardest thing you ever do." Half the time I don't even feel like I'm doing it right. I definitely feel the adversary coming after me. He may get me down, make me feel like I'm not good enough or can't make a difference from time to time. But I am absolutely and stubbornly resolute on this: Satan can't touch my testimony. I have not seen God, but I know He is there because I have seen His influence in my life. I have paid the price to know that this Gospel is true. Now I'm in the process of paying the price so that others can have that same knowledge.
Salvation isn't easy folks, it wasn't easy for our Savior when He suffered and died for our sins, and because of that I'm so grateful He's helping me every step of the way. I want to change guys. I know to become the servant He needs I have to. I love all y'all, thank you for your prayers and support, I'll keep working hard day in day out because I feel the support.