I love it out here. It´s a lot of tough work, but it´s super rewarding. Just one good lesson can make up for everything bad that happened earlier in the day. We have one baptism this upcoming week with another 4 (if they follow through) in the next upcoming weeks. I thought we were going to be baptizing every single week, but as I´ve talked with the missionaries in the Zone and with my companion, it´s not always the case. The people listen to you, but they have a tough time committing. One missionary told me that the culture here keeps people from committing to things and following through. Also, the process takes a while here for an investigator to get baptized. Even though they may be totally ready after the first week, they still have to attend at least three sacrament meetings. The other difficult thing is a lot of people work on Sundays during church so that they can put food on the table for their kids. Regardless, my goal is still to have a baptism every single week and have progressing investigators "in the pipeline" ready to go for each upcoming week. Before I left, my dad told me that expectations, work ethic, and results can be compared to a math fraction. Expectations are in the denominator, Work Ethic is in the numerator, and the desired "result" will always be equal to 1. If you are not "meeting your expectations" (the result is some fraction such as 4/5 or 2/5) you can do two things: change your expectations or change your work ethic (5/5 or 2/2). I´m not going to change my expectations...I desire to have at least one baptism every week. I will, however, have to change my work ethic which includes improving my teaching abilities, language abilities, etc. It´s also always important to remember that missionaries are only instruments in the Lord´s hands and the Holy Ghost is really the one that converts people. Regardless, the ball is still in your court: continually sharpen the sword and strive to become the best instrument you are capable of becoming.
Although we had a lot of great lessons with our investigators, my favorite experience came while teaching a less active member who I will not name. She had stopped coming to church for some time. She stopped because of a lot of doubts and personal challenges: she doesn´t understand why women can´t hold the priesthood, she doesn´t like it that we have dances at church during the week(???). We taught her a great lesson and near the end of it, I could see just a little spec in her eyes as if she was going to start crying. I felt prompted to ask her a simple question that I had used in the CCM a lot: "Hermana, ¿Comò se siente ahora?" She didn´t answer, but it pushed her over the edge and she started crying. Her member neighbors who were with us started to talk to her and we finished the lesson with a sincere prayer from this sister. We will continue teaching her gospel principles to increase her knowledge but we´ll have to get her to talk with the Branch President to resolve the other issues. Crying is a good thing. Sometimes crying let´s you know you´ve hit rock bottom and the "change of heart" truly begins.
Valentine´s Day was great!!!...well, for the gringo Elder in our house at least. His girlfriend sent him a bunch of ties with love notes on them, Pop Tarts, candy, other awesome American Food, and a long hand-written letter. Oh well, at least I´ll be able to stay focused. Mom and Dad, if you could send me a little something for my birthday, it would be greatly appreciated :)
In part of my personal study this week, I read about the story of Jacob and Esau. I liked the part where Jacob met his brother in chapters 32 and 33 of Genesis after leaving his father´s land for some time. Jacob heard that Esau was coming to meet him with 400 other men. Jacob was afraid to see his brother again because he thought he was going to kill him (because of the birthright issue). However, in Genesis 33, we learn that Esau ran up to meet him with joy. The relationship was all good. Jacob´s fears did not come to pass. Before my mission, I had read that fear really stands for False Evidence Appearing Real and that 90% of our fears will never come to pass. Fear limits our ability to progress. In a CCM devotional from Elder Bednar, I also learned that "fear is the absence of action...faith (belief + action) eliminates fear." Overcome your fears, but learn from your mistakes...you will be amazed at how quickly you can grow. Granted, I haven´t overcome all my fears yet, but I´ve begun and I´m already seeing the great blessings that are coming because of it.
Well, that´s all I have. Have a great week everyone!
Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras 2/11/14 - 2/17/14