Monday, June 26, 2017

Week 41: "And I, the Lord, will remember them no more"... witnessing the baptism of Juan

Hola Familia!

Elder Lewis here, making a recording to send to you this week. This week has been good, I think I will start from today and work my way back. SO today, we went, first of all, to the temple. It was my first time in about 8 months, and I loved every minute of it. It has really helped my understand what power in the priesthood is, and I dunno, I read an article by Russell M. Nelson that said that If you want the Lord to teach you about his power and his priesthood and how we can use it, go to His temple, he loves to do his teaching there. That’s really true. I really learned so much. It was like going into it with a new perspective. These past 8 months have really helped me to appreciate that power and what it is.

Then we went and played Micro with the Elders Quorum, that was really fun. It’s kind of funny, here in Colombia, you guys joke about Mormon Standard Time, well Colombian standard time is 10 times worse. We started an hour and a half late. But it was fun. I have been getting better with my feet. I had a couple of good goals today. That was pretty good from where I started. I couldn’t score a goal on a Colombian to save my life. I guess we will have to play when I get back. I took a pretty good slip and kinda smashed myself against the cement… It’s a bit difficult to walk right now… haha. But, ya vamos! I just think I bruised my hip a bit. It could have been worse. One thing is that a Micro ball is really hard because to make it roll like it’s rolling on grass it has to be heavy. Somebody kicked it right into the face of the Elder’s Quorum president today. Got his nose pretty good. The ball is pretty heavy, it kinda stinks to head it in or anything like that because it’s kinda pesado…. Haha. But we came back to the apartment and relaxed for a little bit, and now I’m here!

Yesterday, we went to church, and we had 3 investigators in the church but… investigators… it just breaks your heart when they don’t show up…. But we aren’t getting down on that. We are just gonna try harder next week. Then after church we went and had lunch at a restaurant, because a member bought us lunch there when it was his turn to feed us lunch, so we went there and man… I remember Dad talking about eating Fish Heads in New Zealand… well they do the same thing here. They serve the whole fish. They just cook it. They just stick a stick through it and cook it. Luckily they take most of the guts and stuff out, but it’s a bit hard to get used to… then we went down a little bit further and met with an investigator that we have been trying to get an appointment with for a long time. We had a baptism in April with a muchacho called Victor, and Victor is now 12 and his parents… I don’t know.. we have a great relationship with them. They have a bread store, or a panaderia, and we go down there quite often to see if we can teach them a message. We ended up the other day helping them clean their store for a little while and that was really fun. They are really awesome. But we went and Victor’s Dad, Victor Sr. was there and it was a little bit slow and we just started to have a conversation, and that conversation turned into the day of Sabbath… crap… the Sabbath Day is a hard thing for them because their panaderia is really busy all the time. The conversation turned to that and we felt the spirit so strong that we should go ahead and share a message with them about it, and we testified to him that if he closes the shop one day a week, so that his son will able to attend church, their family will be so blessed. We shared experiences with him, our experiences with the Sabbath Day, and we could see that it touched him. He kinda shook his head a bit, but it touched him. He said that he would think about doing it, about closing the shop one day a week just to see if the Lord would bless him. I know that he will. But it was just an example of the Lord puts you in places. We have been trying to find a way to share that message with them for a week, and there it was, just having a conversation. The conversation actually started out talking about beer companies here in Colombia, but it turned to that somehow. The Lord had prepared him. He was already thinking about it. Thinking about how his son really doesn’t have a lot of time with his dad and I don’t know… It just reminded me how grateful I am that my parents took time with us. That’s part of the thing that I shared with him. I could tell that that really touched him. Then after that we went to Elvira, una investigadora, she is an investigator that has read the Book of Mormon two times now, and because of work hasn’t been able to attend church. BUT she has worked things out, and she will be able to attend church from now on! So we are hoping to get her baptized in July. Her only concern is that… well she just wants to repent. She wants complete repentance. She wants it so bad. She had an Evangelical church take advantage of her and in the name of diezmos, or Tithing, basically rob her and that left her with a bad taste in her mouth of Christianity. But now she is just so humble. She is so teachable. She puts her faith in the Lord. Tithing is a hard thing for her to accept, but she says “I’m gonna put my faith in the Lord.I don’t see why it’s a commandment, but if you say that it is, then it is. And I know that the Lord will bless me.” I feel so blessed to be teaching her. That’s really how I feel. So that was Sunday.

We met 2 new families, Familia Sanchez, there are 3 people, a mom and 2 kids, and another family of about 5 people this last week. There are new investigators coming out of the woodwork and we are hoping to really get going. Saturday, there was an open house at (?) and we went and helped out there, and then our zone leaders informed us that there was a baptism that night, and that if we brought investigators then we could attend. I knew who they were baptizing. His name is Juan Encico. And Juan has had so many problems. So many troubles, including a good struggle with homosexuality. In the last 3 months he has really just bent his knees before the Lord and allowed the Lord to help him with that problem. Now he is a member of the Church! We brought Griselda, one of our investigators, to the baptismal service, and I will tell you that when he was baptized, that may have been one of the times that I have felt the spirit the strongest in my life. It was visible in every person that was there. Griselda, I heard her say “wow. What is that feeling?” well, while the rest of her family aren’t progressing, I know that she is, and although it’s hard for her to understand the scriptures, she is still reading. I am so grateful for her. I am so grateful for Juan and his decision to be baptized. I’m not gonna lie, I judged him a bit when the Zone Leaders told me about him and his past, but with certainty, when he was baptized, I felt, I don’t know it’s something that you feel not really that you hear, “ I don’t remember his sins anymore, and neither should you.”

Well, I just want to close with my testimony of baptism and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the Evangelio, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That through Faith, Repentance, Baptism, reception of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End that we can get clean and stay clean from our sins. I am a witness of his love. I have seen it. It was such a tender mercy of the Lord to let me see that baptism, for me personally. Because even though our main investigators right now don’t want to get baptized, I felt that we should be there and see someone come unto Christ like that. Maybe that strengthening experience will help me so that I can teach with more power so that we can have some more baptisms. I testify of the way that the Lord works. I know it is perfect. I feel it in my chest right now as I speak of it. I testify of this Church. I know the Book of Mormon is true, that it is the keystone of our religion. I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I testify that the priesthood has been restored, and that without it we would be utterly lost. I know and testify of these things. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

-Elder Lewis

"Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven,
 and I, the Lord, remember them no more."
-D&C 58:42

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week 40: Straightening and Strengthening

Buenos Tardes Familia!

Well another week here in Colombia has gone by with a flash and now P-Day is just about over. This week has been really good! We have met a lot of new people and finally a couple things are starting to happen, but we are still putting our shoulder to the wheel and kinda trying to get things going here in Jordan. Stress level has gone down a bit because I got everything caught up as far as organization goes with the Area Book and all of that is really a blessing to have done. For any of you that have been on missions, you know that the area book can either be your best friend or your worst curse because if you don’t keep it well, it is your worst curse. Your zone leaders will ask for it, and your area book is where you keep registered everything, the people you talk to, what you have taught, your investigators, everything has to be registered. If you don’t keep on the ball, well, 2 or 3 days and you are behind. You have to kinda think back and think: “What did I teach them? How did the lesson go?” It really takes some effort to pull it all out. We have been pretty good about it the last couple of weeks and have it all caught up. Really, honestly, it’s a thing that not a lot of missionaries get good at, and I am determined to do it. It can be a great help. That being said, normally, like the other night, we got home about 9:20, I was updating the area book until 10:10, so 20 minutes to kind of get ready to go to bed. It wasn’t terrible, but it keeps you busy. Training and trying to teach, teaching patience, that kind of thing, there are a lot of things that we just do that you don’t think you have to explain but you really do. They don’t know very much.

If you can hear, I HATE this. I hate when they blast the music so loud that you cant hear anything (Note from Jessica: In the background of this week’s recording, there is some very festive and loud Latin music playing, So Elder Lewis has his own soundtrack going on.J )

So, this week we did not have a baptism, because with familia Guerrero moving it’s going to be very hard to keep Miguel Angel active in the new ward. So we decided to cancel and make sure that the missionaries over there get on the ball. We are helping them move and then making sure that when they get there that they have missionaries helping them move in. That will help them a lot. We ran into the problem where we could get their records for matrimony, but actually the problem is that Daniel does not want to get married. It’s really unfortunate. That’s basically what it is. He just doesn’t want to commit himself.

Sorry I will pull out my planner to see what we have done this week. It’s just been a flash. So we had Inter-Cambios this week. I got to be with Elder Johnston, and it was really awesome because he is a really big kid, he played Rugby. We are kind of like the same person. He played rugby for 2 years, his brother plays in Australia semi-professionally. But he is really into musicals and plays. He’s this big jacked kid but he’s really into that. He likes Les Mis, Newsies (his favorite), He’s in my district now, he is one of the new guys. He actually reminds me a lot of Riley Parkinson. It was really cool having an inter-cambio with him. The other thing is that he can dunk a basketball, so when we went to contact a huge group of kids that were playing basketball and I said: “hey, if this guy can dunk it, you have to listen to our message.” And they said “ya right.” And then he did it. That’s right. So we shared a little bit with them and talked about an English class, so we will see if that materializes. Looking to get a better teaching pool here.

Other than that, we recontacted a family called Tamele-Viejo, and they are way way far up on the mountain and they are a pretty good family, I am hoping to get some good ground with them and teach them a little bit. Found a couple of new people this week. Lets see… familia Lopez-Medina have kind of stopped with their progress, but we had a good lesson about the Book of Mormon so I am hoping that they are gonna get going again. We also have an investigator named Edison that has a bit of a problem; we have been teaching him this week and he said he would get baptized this week if he could solve one problem. And that problem was that he had 2 women. That’s right, he has two women, and they know about each other. That’s a big problem as you can imagine. He has 2 kids with one, and then the other one he doesn’t have kids with and he isn’t married to either of them but we are looking to help him solve that problem. We told him that basically “you just need to leave one. You just need to.” But you can imagine as a man who is trying to straighten his life out, and he really is trying to straighten his life out, that’s hard. That’s real hard. So he came to us so that he can get baptized. He is really looking to change his life. He has already quit drugs, his family, parts of his family, his dad and his dad’s wife are both members, and so they are helping to straighten it out. He was into drugs for a really long time. He came to church this week and hit it off with some members so I am hoping that that is going to materialize, so if you would pray for Edison.

We are continuing to visit Victor, one of the guys that we baptized a couple of months ago that’s still strong but having kind of a hard time, just with new member things, but he’s doing well. We have been contacting a heck of a lot more this week, we found a couple of good people that hopefully we can teach, I am looking to do some more contacting this week.

So, I think that’s about my week. This week I have really learned a lot about how wonderful our Father in Heaven really is with all of us, especially when we are obedient. He desires so much to bless all of us. I know it. I know that this is his Gospel. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet. As I testify to other people, it becomes more clear in my mind. Well, I love you guys so much, and I look forward to reading all your emails. Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Week 39: Baptism, Obedience, and Missionary Purification

Hello Family!

Well, this week has been better. I have been learning how to manage everything and how to manage the area, sometimes it’s just hard to stretch to the calling. But we are getting used to it. This week has been a little slow as far as the work goes, we have been teaching about 2 lessons a day, we should be able to do better than that this week, and that’s actually not too bad for Bogota. I would like to be able to teach at least 3. But this week, we should be baptizing Miguel Angel Guerrero, the son of Daniel y Jennifer. Well that’s super exciting! He’s super excited to be baptized. Daniel told me that he wanted to do a Skype call with you guys, I gave him your information. I don’t know if he did it or not, but he told me on Tuesday “well, we’re gonna move guys. Can you guys have President send you where we are going?” It’s about 30 minutes south, still in Bogota. I got emotional. I don’t know if I can say I  have been through a lot with them, but I have felt their pain. But I have felt pain as.. I don’t know. Every investigator has a time when they start to fall away a little bit, but I am hoping that we are on the rebound from that with the baptism of Miguel. But ya, I’m not gonna lie I got emotional and a couple of tears were shed, but I bore my testimony to them that I know that this message will bless their lives. I know that where they go, the message is the same. That the Savior is willing to heal their scars, to make their marriage work, and make their family whole again. I bore that testimony to them. I am hoping that they don’t move too soon, but it could happen because Miguel has to get up WAY WAY WAY early to go to school and they are trying to move him closer to that.

The rest of the families have not been moving very quickly. We got 4 new investigators this week. 2 of them are a pair… how do you say… a couple. That might prove to be very good. They are really responsive and when we read the introduction to the Book of Mormon they were taking notes. They also understood it really quick which is really weird for here. Usually it’s hard to get them to understand what is the Book of Mormon? What are Nephites, Lamanites, Jaredites…. But they picked it up really quick. They are really sharp. We have high hopes with them. We have some other good contacts that with Suerte, with luck, we will be teaching them pretty soon. I am hoping to pull this area out of a hole finally ha ha.

Well, this week I have just learned a lot about how really valuable obedience is, doing the purificación missiónal or missionary purification. It’s an article by Elder Glen R. Cook of the Seventy. Basically there are little things that we slip on, like being up at 6:35, or other little things that we don’t obey that really do affect our ability to carry the spirit with us at all times. So I am working on that. It started with a fast, and then it’s a fast of 40 days where we fast from the things that we were doing that we shouldn’t be doing or the things that we weren’t doing that we should be doing. So I will let you guys know how that goes. Let’s see.. what else….

We met a New Yorker on our last P-Day. We were playing some Basketball and he says “HEY! GIT OVA HEAH” ha ha. So we went over there and his name is Allen. He is actually from the other area so we don’t get to teach him, but we have run into him twice now. He is this New Yorker that is living here in Colombia now, and he actually speaks some pretty darn good Spanish. It was just weird to hear a New York accent. They should be playing some Basketball with him this next week at the church on next p-day.

I was just reading some of your emails, that looks scary what happened up by Carol and Andy’s. (Note from Jessica: Jared’s aunt and uncle, Carol and Andy, live very near to where a major wildfire broke out on the mountain above their home at this time.) I hope and pray that everything goes well. I guess it’s dry there isn’t it? It’s kinda weird to imagine that the mountains aren’t covered in green and jungle and all of that there. It’s really different here. It’s been wet this week. It didn’t rain for a week which is really weird, and then it opened up again and we have had some good rain. In fact I think its raining right now.

I sent Michael a good letter for his birthday, but I wanted to wish him a Happy Birthday. Sweet 16 and I sent ya a good letter with my advice, if that is worth anything. Advice is free ha ha. And with my feelings. I also wanted to send Grandpa a Happy Birthday, I didn’t get a chance to get a letter off to him but if you guys would give him my thanks for everything that he has done for me…I would be very grateful. I sent him my condolences about Aunt Pat. That’s sure hard. But I sure honor and respect and revere that man. I haven’t done a whole lot of things right in my life, but one of them was visiting him every Sunday. Wouldn’t trade those days for all the world.

Well, this has been short and sweet and to the point. I hope you all have a good week and I will keep you posted and hopefully I will be sending baptismal pictures this week! So, I love you all and I will talk to you later. Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Week 38: Not Easy, But Worth It.

Buenos Tardes Familia! Elder Lewis, another week here in paradise, here in Bogota Colombia,

This week has been average. From my chat that I just sent to you I hope that I don’t convey that I am not doing well, because I am doing well. Sometimes it’s just hard to stretch to the calling. It’s hard when all the pressure is on you. But, there have been a lot of good things this week. I told you last week about a woman named Luz Medina that we found through Danny going and getting a haircut, if you remember that story? Well we went in to teach her and she’s like “I think it would be better if we didn’t meet quite as often. I feel pressured.” “we said: “well we don’t want you to feel pressured, so what would you like to do?” and she said: “Lets meet one time a month.” And we were like No. WHY?! Then we did a little bit of digging. We asked some inspired questions and dug down a bit and she ended up telling us a story, a long story, about how she had twins and one of them died in a way that was really tough for her, in a way that was really slow for the baby. She talked about her struggle, and as she told the story, she was crying and I was crying and then we had the opportunity to tell her that her son could be hers but only if she does the things that will qualify her to live with her son, because her son lives with God. We told her that her son lives with God because he was too pure. I told her about Joseph Smith and his struggles with his children and as I told her she wept. We haven’t been able to meet with her,that was Thursday. We will try to meet with her tomorrow. What’s frustrating is that if they don’t do the reading assignments, it’s like starting over every time you go over there. They feel the spirit during the lesson, but they have got to read to keep that going during the week.

So this week, I have been really focusing on getting myself organized, working on our area book, we actually have two area books, if you have been a missionary with Preach My Gospel, you know how big of a pain that is! There have been some late nights trying to get that organized. Normally we stop at 10:00, and there’s not a whole lot that my companion can do because he hasn’t been here very long and he doesn’t know a whole lot about that. I am teaching him what I can but then I have to do the rest. Makes me wish I had done it when Elder Silva was here, but then again that was hard. For P-Day we went down to the center, and here in Bogota, the directions are nuts. There’s a system of Calle that runs from east to west. (calle means street) and a Carrera (which means road) runs north to south. We live in Calle 127 and every Calle has 127, 127A, B, C, D, E, and sometimes F. so we went down to Calle 13, which was lejos, it was really far. But it was cool! We didn’t have much time today, but next week we will go back there and visit some museums and stores. It’s actually a part of Bogota that isn’t very pretty. There are a ton of people, so many people. We got back here a little bit late.

I just wanted to tell you guys, to finish up this recording, about a dream that I had. I don’t know. It made a big impression on me. Sometimes, we as missionaries we dream about when it’s time to go home. So in my dream I was on my way home, on the plane back and I dreamed that, I don’t know, I had something left to do. I dreamed that I got home and I realized that I hadn’t finished my mission. That there was more. I realized that I went home with like a year and half. For no particular reason. I just felt like I had something left to do. I tried to talk to President about going back, but I don’t know. It impressed upon me how much I really do appreciate this mission. How much I love it. How much it has changed me, and I only have 9 months in the mission. I realized how great of an opportunity it is. Although I am learning and as I have learned, I have had hard experiences that have really knocked it into me, what this mission really means. I wish I could have gotten with it faster, and wish, still, that I could get with it faster. I feel like there are so many things I have to do to be an effective missionary. But I just realized how great and how much worth this mission has for me. I just realized…. I don’t know. I woke up at 6 this morning, and couldn’t go back to sleep just thinking about it. About how much I love this. Sometimes I don’t think that I am happy because it’s hard and I am stretched. I have the ward council at my heels all the time and…. But I really do love this opportunity. We have had good experiences where the Lord has put people in our path that need us. Well they don’t need us but they need the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t know how the gospel of Jesus Christ helps people in extreme circumstances from examples in my own life, but I have seen it so many times here. I really am grateful to my Heavenly Father for the opportunity to serve a mission. I don’t think that I would trade it for anything in the world. It’s taken some hard knocks to get me to realize how much it means to me. But this dream left me with the determination to do everything that I can, even though I sometimes feel like I don’t know what I am doing, to do everything that I can. To seek help, and that eventually it will all be alright. That’s my experience that I just wanted to share with you guys. Thank you for your prayers. I really do feel them on my behalf. When I want to give up I just think about that. I am very excited for what the future holds, and I think now that I have realized that I need the Lord so much, this is when he can really help me, when he can really lift me.

Well guys, I don’t have much time, so I will leave you now, Thank you so much for everything and I hope all is well at home. I love you guys. Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis