Hola :-) Even though I am learning zero Spanish out here, lol
---Just a side note, if you happen to ever see Gold Toe on a really good sale, I have found that they are the only socks that hold up well with all this walking---
I'm glad to hear that things with the fam are going well, especially considering Sallie Mae is still in the picture. I don't, and never will miss that place. Sorry dad! But as always, my prayers are still very much with you all! Oh, and EVERYONE loves the scripture case! And I have begun writing another letter for the fam, so stay tuned :-)
This week has been our most effective week of teaching and finding so far. We once again led the district in lessons with 16, and found another investigator tracting, and a couple potential investigators. I have absolutely loved each day of it and look forward to all the rest to come. I really feel like my ability to follow the spirit is increasing also, which is something else I pray for everyday because I know that my limited knowledge and skill set will do very little for the progression of this work.
We tracted into this really cool old guy named Adolf Arnold. He answered with a big smile saying hello to his "Mormon friends". We talked for a little while at his door step and it turns out that he has lived in 32 countries, and in every single one missionaries have found him and talked to him, including little countries in Africa. He was very nice but informed us that he has taken the lessons many many times and it would not do any good to go through them again. Before we said goodbye I told him that I am very new to the mission field and that I am still trying to learn how to be a good teacher, and would love it if we could teach him the lessons anyway, for 'my learning'. This idea, of him teaching me while I teach him, got him pretty excited and he readily agreed to meet with us on Sunday, yesterday.
Teaching him was a lot harder then I had expected. Not only has he had the lessons close to as much as I have taught them, but he has traveled the world and gone through years and years of education. He was born a Jew, grew up in a christian area, and through travel has studied about every religion besides something I have never heard of in Japan. He has also taken 4 years in a military university of religious studies. His learning and knowledge was miles ahead of mine, and it turns out that part of what he was excited for was showing me how much more he knows, and told me right off that he will not ever be convinced against his currents beliefs, which encompass doctrines from so many different religions. I was praying the entire time in my heart that the spirit would lead our conversation and tell me what to say because I knew I didn't stand a chance of making a difference otherwise, and my companion was content with letting me do the teaching since it was my idea to set it up.
Most of the time was spent with me asking him questions and then teaching on some principle that was in his answer. I have been studying in depth the teachings of Christ during his earthly ministry and kept that in mind the whole time, trying to emulate the way he taught. It felt amazing! Adolf tried so many ways to catch me in my words, or to bring up a doctrine that he saw as impossible or false, and then the spirit would place the answer in my mind, and many times the scripture to go with it. Things I had leaned about that morning as well as years before were all being brought back into my memory, and the spirit made it impossible for Adolf to find wholes in the teaching. In the end I could tell he had much more respect for our doctrine, but still had not felt of its truthfulness like I had hoped. Through it we were blessed enough to never have any contention or fighting (bashing). We set up an appointment for next Sunday though, so I hope he feels the spirit soon.
I am running out of time so I guess I can only relate one more experience from the past week. We went to teach John again, we being the Ward Mission Leader, Elder Davis, and myself. It went really well! He told us about some of the doubts he has been having in Gods love for him, which stems from a horrible childhood. He said that he is having trouble progressing with the restored gospel because of everything that happened in his childhood, as well as his family trouble right now with his wife trying to get a divorce. We could tell that he was being sincere, and that he really is having trouble feeling the spirit, even though he has read everything in the BoM that we have asked him to.
We did our best to comfort him and finished the rest of the first lesson, after which he said that he thinks he will have to get baptised some time, he just doesn't know when yet. Then the spirit took over what I was saying and I bore testimony that he is going through these trials to help him receive this message that we are sharing with him, and that it is through tribulation that many of our great spiritual leaders have come. I related the stories of Abraham and his parents, and then of Joseph and the trials he went through, and then talked about the great blessings that they received. Then I looked him in the eyes and promised that as long as he will continue studying the BoM, and following through with the commitments that he will feel the spirit testify to him of the validity of our message, and that he will know what steps to take from there. The spirit was there very powerfully and he told he that my testimony was strong and that he knew what I was saying was true. I love the power that comes from following the spirit, and the affect it can have on peoples hearts, and minds. A couple days later the Ward Mission Leader came up, shook my hand, and said that I am an extremely powerful missionary, and he is thankful to be able to work with me.
Each experience I have makes me more excited for the next. Suddenly I want to spend every spare moment studying so that I can be more effective in my teaching, and so the spirit has more to work with through me. Thank you for all of your support everyone! I have to go shopping so I have to cut this short, but I hope and pray things are going well for you to.