The work rolls on. This week was way good cause we were able to have divisions again. In the first division we were able to help out two Elders who were struggling a bit and this Sunday an awesome family came to church so they are super excited now and working way hard. It was rewarding to see their success. Then I was with Elder Preece who is a brand new missionary who speaks better Spanish than the majority of those who have been here for 6 months. He is the man and we had a great division. It was weird to think that 25 years ago our dads were together in the mission on the other side of the world.
We also had stake conference this week. Elder Bednar spoke on a transmission to Uruguay and Paraguay and it was way awesome. He was talking about how he talked with the leaders of the church and was asking what the members needing and they started listing all of the things like home teaching and sharing the gospel and magnifying their callings, etc. But instead of talking about all of these things he shared the true doctrine of repentance in a powerful way that left everyone wanting to be better. It reminded me of a talk he gave that we watched in the MTC where he talks about always teaching doctrines because that is what truly changes people. It was good to hear the difference between him and some of the other leaders who at times just drop the cane on everyone.
The miracle that happened this week was after the conference when I was thinking about what true progression really is. Something I have been thinking about all week. There are a lot of missionaries and a lot of branches and a lot of people who think that they are progressing when they are really not progressing a whole lot. It is like the rocking horse philosophy. That movement doesn´t equal progression. And I was thinking about how a missionary can go into an area and baptize 10 people by himself or he can go into an area and train 20 members to share the gospel whose efforts later bring 50 people into the church. Which is better? Which creates true progress? In my time here, I think I have clapped just about every house and I have talked to just about everyone in the street and have had a lot of people come to church, but there hasn´t been a whole lot of progress for the work, here in the branch.
Thinking of all of this, I read Alma 8. Alma is baptizing like crazy and then he goes to another city and is rejected and spit on. I felt the Spirit powerfully as I read the following verses:
14 And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying:
15 Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivest thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you.
I felt like it was my Heavenly Father´s way of telling me that I am doing my part and that He is proud of me for my efforts. It was really exactly what I needed.
But then I received the key for what I needed to do here in the area---The angel tells him to go back and then "he entered the city by another way" and finds Amulek who is an inactive member of the church. They eat and spend time in his house preparing and then they go out and teach, but their power is described in the followng verses:
30 And Alma went forth, and also Amulek, among the people, to declare the words of God unto them; and they were filled with the Holy Ghost.
31 And they had power given unto them, insomuch that they could not be confined in dungeons; neither was it possible that any man could slay them; nevertheless they did not exercise their power until they were bound in bands and cast into prison. Now, this was done that the Lord might show forth his power in them.
Now that the member and the missionary have united they have much more power than what Alma had alone. In the following chapters it is clear to see that power, and that this time they had a lot more success. So we dedicated our Sunday to visiting all of the members, sharing this story and inviting them to hast for the missionary effort in the branch, pray for spiritual experiences, invite a friend to an activity, make a visit to a less active member, and have a family home evening where they make a plan on how they will share the gospel. We felt the Spirit strongly in the houses of the members and they are all excited to try and share the gospel more. Hermano Beltran said he was going to visit all of his friends and family and set up appointments with them to visit with us. We are very excited to see true progress here in the branch.
Why I didn´t think of this before, I do not know. Maybe I was to busy being frustrated, or maybe it just wasn´t the right time before. But what I do know is that I am grateful for a Father in Heaven who gives us the direction that we need to help his work move along. I also invite all of you to do the same thing that we invited the members to do here. I promise that as you do these things that the Lord will give you the revelation that you need to hasten His work in your circle of influence. God´s work cannot be stopped. That is already decided. What is not decided is what role we will play in the work. Will we be on the sidelines or on the field? Let´s get in the game.
Con amor, Elder Hawk
A few of the pictures of the cow´s head. It was pretty good, except for the brain.
Elder Hawk and Elder Preece
Hernandarias in exchanges
We caught a lizard