I noticed that I seem to jump into my week and never really tell how I am or answer questions haha, so here's a little slow down. I'm having a blast in Manta, the next week we may go to a cool tourist spot in Monticristi but we'll see what happens with Semana Santa (Holy Week). This week is the week of Easter and the Catholics have crazy traditions. I don't know all of them, so I'll fill you in later, but some days they are not allowed to eat meat, others they cannot eat fish, if you do you are eating the body of Christ, lots of crazy things like that.
I'm healthy (to American Standards) haha I jumped on a scale the other day at a members house where you put your height and as you step on the scale it'll show how healthy you really are. At 6'2 and 195ish, I'm very obese haha. Health is great, my companionship is getting much better, I really have learned that it is much easier and more edifying, though tests your patience, to simply walk with them and not drag them. We have been blessed out here with a HUGE area, probably the size of Orem and part of Provo and we have tons of investigators. That is the great thing about Latin America Missions. People listen, people progress. The problem is either the missionaries that don't take advantage of this great blessing and the converts fall away quickly and easily.
A few things that have touched me deeply this week, you really cannot count the blessings in the field. This morning I read a letter from my converts in Portoviejo who thanked me for my service, but not just that, they invited me to their sealing here in December! I still lack almost a whole year, but I about came into tears as I truly felt the heart of missionary work. Not baptisms, not lessons, families that get a glimpse and catch hold of the hope of an eternity together. I sure hope I can join them in their sealing. That would be the best Christmas present I could ever ask for!
This week was full of teaching and started off strong! On Tuesday alone we committed 4 people to baptism and are helping them realize the love of God in their personal lives. One was very special. We were talking to a girl of 21 who is pregnant and already has a 3 year old girl. Her boyfriend drinks and smokes and never is at home. She is looking for hope (perfect! haha) but her little girl would not stop running, yelling, banging, and playing! We were with a member who's preparing for a mission and what happened next was picture perfect. I opened my Book of Mormon with a picture of the family and Christ in the front and the little girl came to my arms to flip through the pictures. The mother noticed and all went dead quiet and the Spirit truly pierced our hearts and filled our empty souls as my companion invited her to come to Christ and be baptized in May. She accepted with such easiness! It was so simple, so touching, we could've lost patience and disregarded our impression of the Spirit and left without a Baptismal Date. Instead we made the most of a situation, reached out in love, and the Spirit so easily entered that home and assured María José of the hope for families in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
My last story comes from Friday. We went to visit before lunch at 1. It was 11 and our appt. wasn't there. We could've wasted time waiting for lunch, but instead we went singing from door to door. We would enter, sing a hymn, leave a prayer over their home and take off. Real simple! No real results until the 4th house, a lady that almost rejected us too cause she 'had to pick up the kids from school' when they came walking up minutes later. She let us in, we sang Families can be Together Forever and she completely opened up to us, told us of the great family she has yet something is lacking. We left her the Book of Mormon, a promise of what she would find therein, and an appointment to come back this Wednesday.
Look for the little ways to keep the Spirit, to make the most of time, to make the most of your situations, to be more patient, to be more loving, to not judge but to enjoy. By waiting, by hoping, by acting and by promising I have been able to come closer to my Savior, my companion, and allow Maria Jose and the Family Briones Cordero come closer to their Savior.
There is no greater work on the earth. There are no tougher pains, there are no greater joys, a mission is for those who TRULY want to find the Savior in their lives because they are willing to pass through the trials, humble themselves, and wait patiently for the blessings that they KNOW will come!
It's hard. It's a blast. Christ lives, He loves me so much and I know He feels the same about each one of you. 'Bridle your Passions so that you may be filled with love,' and I promise you that all will be so much better in the home, in the street, and before your Maker.