Hola, como estan? This week has been a growing week. My trainer has been at a Leadership Training Meeting almost every day, so I've had to go on exchanges from Tuesday-thursday with an Elder Mulhstein. We both can't understand Spanish all that well, but it was good for us to get out and teach lessons without having to use my trainer as a fallback. I taught my first lessons completely in Spanish without my trainer! I felt pretty accomplished. There was this one lesson we had with a Mom and her children that was entirley in Spanish; we definately struggled communicating, but I think that it allowed for the Spirit to communicate more. Speaking Spanish forced me to simplify my teaching, and overall, I think this was one of the lessons where I felt the Spirit the strongest.
I'm learning a lot about how key member missionaries are in missionary work. Think about the story of the thousands of Lamanites that were converted because of Ammon and his brethren. If you look closely in chapter 23 I think it is, the only reason the missionaries were able to teach and convert thousands of people was because the King of the Lamanites "administered" and "pacified" the people beforehand. Only after the King referred the kingdom to listen to the word of God, were the missionaries able to have success. And then, the Aron and his bretheren went about organizing churches and appointing teachers to preach the Gospel. This is member missionary work! And it was said that the Lamanites who were converted, never did fall away. Think about it, the greatest missionary miracle in the Book of Mormon was brought to pass because of member missionary work.
I was listening to a Stake Presdent speak in Church this past Sunday, and he told us that his son, who was serving in Mexico, recently had a mission training with Elder Bednar. Basically, the missionaries are being instructed not to go knocking on doors anymore and work compleltey by member refferals. This hasn't taken effect in Oklahoma, but truly is what is needed in order to really spread the Gospel. All of us have been placed in the lives of our non-member friends for a reason. I highly encourage everyone back home to pray about a friend they could possibly invite to meet the missionaries. If it's done with love and concern, they will not be offended.
Our branch is pretty good about member missionary work. My companion and I literally pass around a sign up sheet during priesthood session every day, and we get quite a few people to sign up for a time to come work with us. The members can help break down barriers with investigators and establish friendly relationships. It's incredible how much this work is not only reserved for missionaries...it belongs to all of us. True, the missionaries are leading out the efforts, but to be honest, knocking on doors is not the most effective way to find people. It works, but very rarely.
Anyways, that's my rant for the day. I just realized that I forgot to mention where I'm serving in Oklahoma. I'm serving in the southern part of the actual Oklahoma City. The Spanish branch I'm working with is actually the largest in the mission. They have a pianist for Sacrament meetings so I don't get too many chances to play piano (except for P-days). However, there is a Branch Talent Show coming up that I'm hoping to participate in. I think I'm accompaning one of the members who is a really good Opera singer (you can hear him sing above everyone else during Sacrament Meeting). Oh, and here's a little tid-bit about the Spanish branch---they can't really carry a tune all that well:) It's pretty funny, one of our investiagators brought it up. He metioned after the meeting that he liked his other Church better because they sing a lot prettier. He said he'd still come to our church, but we've got a little teaching we need to do with him.
The funnest lessons Elder Black and I have taught this week have been to a few 9-year old kids named Alberto and Silas. Alberto has actually already committed to baptism. His Mom isn't a member yet, but he has good support from his older brother. His mom will let him get baptised but we have to teach him all the lessons first. And let me tell you, these lessons have been a blast. I used a little visual activity that I learned from my Mom in a letter home. We asked one of the members to call our cell phone in the middle of the lesson. We changed the caller ID of this member to say "God". So when the member called our phone, it looked like God was literally calling. It worked so well! Alberto was kind of confused, the other kid that was sitting in with us (Silas) totally bought it. Anyways Elder Black pretended to talk with God. He said thank you for all his friends and asked God to bless his family, mentioned Alberto's name and then he hung up. It was a great lesson about how to prayer and how its literally a conversation with your Father in Heaven. Alberto brought up the fact that he couldn't hear God on the other side...PERFECT opportunity to share how we don't hear God but that we feel his love through the Holy Ghost. He then asked a question that really taught me a lot: "How did God feel when you mentioned my name?" My companion and I went silent because neither of us had prepared for this question. But think about it...how must God feel when you pray for other people? He must feel incredibly happy to see his children truly showing concern for his other children.
Anyways, wow! you know if we could teach children more often out here on the mission, I think the Church would grow at twice the rate it is now, and the retention rates would be equally as good. Children are just so open to hear the Gospel. They are naturally curious and willing to learn. I guess that's why Jesus asks us to become as little Child. you literally can't apply the doctrine of Christ without becoming like a Child. If you aren't humble, meek, submissive and obedient, there is no way you can excercise faith unto repentance. I think back to my own siblings and I realize that I've learned quite a bit from them being an older brother.
On a sadder note, my companion and I had an unfortunate experience this week. Remember that family I mentioned a few weeks ago? The one that was golden and ready to hear the Gospel? They had to go back to Mexico this week. We ran into the Mother just as she was preparing to leave. She said they wouldn't know if they'd be able to come back. It was hard. We quickly bore our testimonies and gave her a Book of Mormon. I have a strong feeling they will hear the gospel though. If not through me, it will be through some other missionary. I felt more hope, than despair.
Well, those are the highlights of the week, and I'm running out of time. The work is progressing and it's incredible to witness. I have yet to witness a miracle, but I'm sure once the day comes that I can understand Spanish fluently, I'll have had enough miracles for a lifetime!