Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Baptisms at a Water Park

Andres treated us to some delicious BBQ
We did some service!
Look where Elder Johnson and Valesquez baptized this Saturday! In a water park haha!
Boy oh boy, this has been a long week! For all the right reasons though, it's just been packed with different things. I don't really even remember Tuesday and Wednesday haha.

So, I guess the first thing that I want to share is about my prayers. Well, really it's about friends, but I realized it through my prayers. 

When I started my mission, I prayed a lot for my friends. Sometimes I'd ask specific things for specific friends, sometimes I'd just ask for all of them to be happy and safe.

Now, I still ask for that. But I find myself then thinking of all my friends here in Costa Rica, and asking things for them, too. I've always been one to keep a pretty small net of friends, but this mission has blessed me with so many beautiful and meaningful friendships. I think the coolest things is exemplified by an investigator we have, who's getting baptized this Sunday.

Every day we go eat lunch at a lady Juli's house. She's preparing to go on a mission next year! And she's just hilarious. She's good friends with our ward mission leader, Andres, who's also prepping for a mission, and a recent convert named Catalina who's also prepping to go on a mission. A few weeks ago, an investigator who we didn't know showed up to church. Turns out that she's Juli's best friend, who had invited her to church. I had listened to the missionaries before, but never gone to church. We started teaching I in the same house that we eat at, Juli's, with Juli Andres and Catalina present. Now, they had all been friends before, but since we've started teaching those discussions there is an indescribable bond that they have. They have come so much closer to each other as friends! As well, there's a special spark in Juli since she's really dived into the missionary work. She's just always a little bit happier than she was before. And the coolest part is that Elder Ritchie and I get to be more than just I's guide into the church, we get to be part of this spiritually enriching friendship as well.

The gospel improves our lives in a much more direct and applicable way than we sometimes realize. As we come closer to God, we will have better relationships, with friends, significant others, and spouses alike.

It's difficult for me to unpack everything that happened this week and boil it down into the basic story, but here goes.

In the start of this week, we were feeling a lot of pressure from the Zone Leaders to find more New Investigators. While it's always important to find new investigators and especially in our companionship we're not very good at it, all the pressure was starting to get to us. It seemed like no matter what we did, our day wasn't successful if we didn't hit that goal of new investigators. Then, on Friday morning during weekly planning, we took a step back. Our week had been pretty frail up to this point. Our lessons just weren't so powerful, our work not so efficient. We took a step back during our Weekly Planning Session (a 2 hour chunk of time to make broader, week-wide plans and goals) and looked at our Area Plan. We had decided to make an Area Plan some 5 weeks ago, and following it had brought us a ton of success! As we reviewed the inspired plan that we had taken the time to record (notice how recording inspiration helped us here!), we were able to refocus on the three pillars of missionary work: Planning (which we were still doing well), Teaching (stress had taken the place of the Spirit in our lives), and member missionary work (since member work doesn't bring numerical results immediately, we had let it slip a bit). The inspired goals we had set before let us get that spirit back in our teaching (stress goes away when you plan specific ways to hit goals) and reenergize our work with the members! And then, after two miracle filled days of Friday and Saturday, 14 of our investigators came to church! To give some perspective, the most we had ever gotten before was 9, and we doubled what we had last week in a week that was likely to be bad (some event was happening that Sunday).

We really only had 2 days of effective working time this last week, but it turned out to be one of our best weeks. It's a gentle reminder to me of how much Christ could do if he were to just teach one lesson a day. Sometimes we focus on using all of our time efficiently, and we don't give the focus to the spirit and using our time effectively. It was a really big, and really humbling, lesson.

I don't want to jinx it, but it's looking really sure that I'll have baptismal pictures for you all next week!

I love you all. Make sure you're staying worthy to have the spirit as your companion, and using your time effectively to edify your lives and lives of those around you :-)


Elder Henry
I can't really easily explain what we're doing with our hands, but it's in inside joke with the district :-) (that's the whole district at a teaching fireside we had yesterday)
On our way back in the busette!

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