This week was really hard. There's a complete 180º difference between the work here in Pavones and the work in Leganés. In Leganés we had a teaching pool of about 20 people and hardly enough time to see them all in a week. The ward, though small, was supportive, loving, and really helpful in coming with us to teach investigators and welcoming us into their homes for meals or to share a message. When we brought new people to church, the bishop and at least five other people were quick to greet them and help them feel comfortable. Here I haven't experienced any of that. It's really difficult to do our part as missionaries when the members don't do their part to help us, and it's gotten us really discouraged lately.
But in my 8 months (as of yesterday) I've figured out what the absolute hardest thing for me is about being a missionary: when people reject the message we have. It's sad because they don't know what they're walking away from, and I do. They're my brothers and sisters and they don't even know the happiness and blessings they choose to miss out on. But what hurts the absolute most is when they've received a testimony, when they've prayed and felt their Heavenly Father's love for them, when they've seen the blessings that come from keeping the commandments, when they've read the Book of Mormon and start to know it's true, when they've come to church and built friendships with the members, and then they give up. That's what kills me. It literally makes me hurt for them. Most of the tears I've cried since being a missionary have come from just that - people giving up on their investigation process. It's especially difficult because there's only so much I can do. I've taught them what needs to be taught, I've fasted and prayed for and with them, I've testified of truth and promised blessings, and I've helped create an environment where they can feel the Spirit and know the things I tell them are true. I've gained such a strong testimony that the Lord is in charge. People have their agency and can choose to accept or reject our message, but they are always in the Lord's hands. He knows them and loves them even more than I do and He knows what they need and when it will be their time. It's just really hard sometimes. Really, really hard.
We did have a miracle this week though. We've been teaching this kid who's 17, Bolivian, and really cool. So Saturday night we taught him about the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ and we brought this girl Natalie who's 19 and just got baptized 2 years ago. During most of the lesson he was looking down at the ground and not paying a whole lot of attention. Towards the end when we started talking about Joseph Smith and his role in restoring Christ's church, the Spirit was definitely present. I told him Joseph Smith's experience during the First Vision and he looked at me the whole time and then Natalie bore her testimony on what a blessing it is to have the true church of Jesus Christ on the Earth today. It was really powerful and I know Rafa felt the Spirit. I asked him afterwards if he believed that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could be Christ's true church and he said he believed it could, but that he wanted to ask God. Then we invited him to church the following morning.
The next morning (yesterday) I called Rafa at 9 to make sure he was up and still going to come. At 11:35 Hermana Olsen and I went outside to wait for him. I called him and heard that he was on the bus and he said he was almost there. I literally squealed with excitement. I was so proud! He's making progress! We sat together in sacrament meeting and it was awesome. He asked questions, listened to the talks, and I even noticed him singing along during the last two hymns. It was so good to have him there. And he's coming to our movie night tonight! We're watching the long Joseph Smith movie and I'm really excited.
So that's all that's really been on my mind lately. My membership in the only true church of Jesus Christ has made me who I am. A lot of people say ''I don't even know where I'd be without the gospel.'' I know exactly where, and who I'd be without the gospel of Jesus Christ and I never want to have to experience that. Every good thing I have in my life comes from God. Because I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I know who I am and more importantly, who I can become. This gospel is a gospel of change and because of my faith in and testimony of Jesus Christ I can improve myself every day. I'm so grateful for the life I've been given and for the direction and purpose it has because of my knowledge of the truth. That knowledge and the blessings that come from accepting the message and participating in the saving ordinances found only in this church are available to EVERYONE. It's just a matter of whether or not they choose to accept it. It's my constant hope, prayer, and deep desire that they do whether through my efforts or those of others.
Thank you all for your good examples and service to the missionaries. We full-time missionaries are so very dependent on your prayers, testimonies and support.