The Lord has carried me further than I'd be able to go on my own power. We had a really strong drive to accomplish the Standards of Excellence in the mission this week, and although we didn't reach them, we shot for the moon and landed among the stars. A lot of sincere prayer and a pair of worn-out shoes have helped me gain greater understanding as to why I'm here at this time, and how I can forget myself further and keep my "eye single to the glory of God". I've been able to recognize blessings better and become less selfish in my prayers, relying more on what the Lord wants for me. It's been hard but all is well!
Speaking of "all is well", we had the opportunity to teach Zone Meeting on Tuesday. It was really fun! We conducted another finding activity, where all of us left the chapel for 20 minutes to go street contacting. It really motivated us all that whole week to do better. Our companionship has doubled in numbers of contacts, and so has the whole Zone! That's such a wonderful tender mercy. As part of the lesson, we taught about the Parable of the Sower, or more accurately the Parable of the Soil. We compared several accounts in the scriptures to the different kinds of soil, people, that can be found. We compared the wayside soil to the people at the time of Noah and the Flood, who were so hard-hearted that nothing could be done but to commence imminent destruction. The stony-place people have many examples found in the scriptures, and it has a lot to do with the victim mentality that you've so beautifully described in past emails; the whole civilization of the Lamanites was living in that sort of victim mentality that invoked them to gratify pride and go on in wickedness. The specific example we used was when only shortly after receiving the Ten Commmandments, the children of Israel told Aaron to make them a golden calf, because Moses had been up in the mountain for too long, they were getting bored, they started missing the food in Egypt, and were beginning to forget the signs and wonders that they had seen... It's an all too familiar story, isn't it?
The thorny places is where we might usually find ourselves in, as members of the Church. Sometimes we get way too tangled up in worldly things, with that "summer-home in Babylon" becoming more and more comfortable, until we reach the point that no matter how strong our testimony is, it can be quenched by our own ambitions and we become fruitless. This is definitely something that missionaries have the best experience with, having left the world behind only to find that it did not want us to leave it, and it keeps on rearing its ugly face over and over again, keeping us distracted from our purpose. I'm so glad to know that we've been weeding out those thorns in this Zone, and in myself, over this last week. God has been refining us in our weakness, and helping us every step of the way.
For the example of the 100-fold fruit of the good soil, I told the story of William Clayton, the composer of "Come Come Ye Saints". If you haven't read the story, do so now. It was a very powerful experience telling the story of thousands of Saints, being kicked out of their homes once again, heading into the frontier earlier than expected because of the threats of numerous mobs, and then to have this man, William, leave his pregnant wife back in Nauvoo, with no assurance as to whether she'd be safe. But as he was camping in the bleak winter, a letter arrived at his tent with the news that his wife had delivered a baby boy, healthy and safe. It was at that moment that the words and music to "Come Come Ye Saints" poured into his mind. I wish I could have sufficient eloquence to explain how proud I am of those early Saints, who did not fear death, and went wherever the Lord would have them go. That's good soil. That's 100 fold. We sang it as our closing Hymn, and I couldn't get through the first line without bawling. Awesome.
There were 8 baptisms in Alicia this last weekend, with an anticipated 4 more this next weekend! The Lord really is hastening His work. We have 3 investigators in our area now with baptismal dates, one of which attended Church: Sister Flor. She's working on getting married as of the moment, considering she has a live-in and they want to get baptized. Our investigators are continually doing well and receiving answers to prayers, and your prayers as well would be much appreciated!
I've been sick the past 3 days because of a huge rainstorm that came in and affected the water. We almost died from the lightning accompanying said rainstorm, which was an adventure. But even though I've been feeling bad, it hasn't effected our work schedule, because I know that God has been carrying me along, helping me to do all that He needs me to do, and I have faith that "I can do all things, through Christ which strengtheneth me." I love you all, and I love this work. Thank you again. I leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
In Echague with Elder Bautista, down by the river.