I remembered that I failed to put pictures into the letter I sent home, so I will try to get some of those sent off soon!
Also, I was wondering if you could get me Jesse's address or email :-)
This week started off great, but ended on an extremely sad and disappointing note. We had Zone Conference this week which was incredible! President Anderson taught a short discourse on the difference between having a testimony and being converted. It was a difference that I had not thought to much about prior but it has been fun to study since. The start to conversion is actually before having a testimony, it is simply believing, meaning someone believes that Christ exists. Even the devils are to this point in the process. The next step is learning more about Christ and allowing faith in His atonement to take root, which turns belief into a testimony. This is when someone believes in Christ, and also knows that it is through him we can be saved and has a hope for that salvation. Finally to be converted we pray for greater faith and work to allow it to grow, and then live our lives according to gospel standards because we love Christ. So the process goes from knowing He exists, to having faith it is through Him we are saved, to loving Him and wanting to serve with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. Obedience is one of the ways we can gauge how converted we are.
And then we were able to meet with Sonia again :-) Her husband was not there, but we didn't feel good about asking where he was. The lesson still went great though. We taught about the pre-earth life and the creation, and then ended part way through our purpose on this earth. We ended up spending a lot of time focusing on baptism as one of the necessary ordinances, without directly asking if they would like to be baptised. Then she said she had already been baptised catholic and asked if it was alright to be baptised twice. So we spent the remainder of our time there teaching about authority and the importance to be baptized by someone who holds that authority, and the blessings that it brings. This coming week we will hopefully be giving some type of baptismal commitment.
What happened Friday is what makes the ending of this week to disappointing. On Friday we met with John and Johnny, the father and son we have been teaching since we first got here. John started off by saying he has been talking to another Mormon and has decided this is not the church for him. Through the 2 hour conversation we had with him we finally found out the 'Mormon' he has been talking to is a past missionary who has since been excommunicated and is now anti, GREAT. We spent the 2 hours with him teaching and expounding the scriptures, showing that every concern he has with the church can be answered in the bible. It was incredible! The spirit was so strong, we answered every question, and bore powerful testimony. In the end though we still ended up praying and walking out for what might be the last time. We ended on good terms, but he still is not continuing our lessons with him. I walked out wanting to cry and punch something at the same time. Why can people not see and feel how true this is?
Well enough with that... Mom said in her email that Tom doesn't think I put everything in these emails concerning missionary obedience, and sadly he is correct. I have been blessed with a very strong desire to be obedient, and have been, but many of the missionaries out here are not. Since I arrived there have already been 6 missionaries sent home for one reason or another. There are missionaries who have weekly movie nights, girlfriends, cellphones, study anti, and some things I would rather not write. I have been told by many missionaries that it is impossible to be perfectly obedient and that trying is a waste of time and will suck the fun out of a mission. Its disgusting, and is causing so many to miss out on hearing about the restored gospel. However, there are still some missionaries who are out here because they want to work, they love God, and they know the gospel has been restored and want others to feel the blessings that come from it. So ya, Tom is right, but I prefer to focus on the great aspects of missionary work, and there are so many that I usually don't have time to write about other missionaries :-)