Satan Works Hard to Impede the Work of God

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Satan is definitely trying the faith of the Lopez family. I am thinking that I am going to have to buy bubble wrap next week to keep the family out of harm’s way. Just when you would think that there is no way two accidents could happen two consecutive weekends, we ended up getting a call from Cristi telling us that they were not going to be able to attend church because they ended up having to use the car to take their niece, Melisa, to the hospital resulting from a trip, spraining her back while walking over to their house to go to church. The good news is that they have decided to follow the admonition of Job, and remain faithful to God, having faith that the reward they are going to receive for enduring these trials will be much bigger.

The members have not been the best support for them during these times of trial. It is hard to get them to open up their inner circle group of friends. But luckily, their motivation for joining the Church is not to please anyone besides God, which is the motivation that many members lack, which explains why so many go inactive.

Being Led to a Family of 18

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The way we found the family of 18 was actually a really cool story. One day, while Elder Whitney and I were out making contacts, I felt the strong prompting from the Spirit to contact a home. But before I could knock on the door, Elder Whitney informed me that he had already talked to the owner of that home, and the owner was a huge jerk. Despite the warning from my companion, I could not get it out of my mind the need to contact that home… so, I knocked on the door anyway. Upon knocking on the door, we met the cleaning lady, who was the only one there that day. At first, I began to second-guess the prompting I had felt, but then the clean lady (Cristi is her neam) began to share with us the desire she had always had to meet with the missionaries, but never believed that they would come out to where she live (which is an “aldea” that is a 2-hour walk from the town where we lives. After making the 2-hour hike to her home, I began understand why she had never seen missionaries out where she lives. But it was definitely worth the hike/climb, since not only was she there, with a desires to learn, but all her brothers and sisters and her kids were there too.

Even though it is an incredible sacrifice for them to come down from the hills where they unspecified3live, to attend church every Sunday, they currently have attended church three times, and are striving to make the necessary sacrifices to prepare themselves for baptism on the 23rd of December. Even last Sunday, when they thought they wouldn’t be able to attend after all, due to a lack of gas to drive to church and back, they ended up finding the means to get down the mountain, leaving me speechless as they entered the chapel in the middle of Sacrament meeting.

Satan has definitely been working hard to impede their progression… especially with the husband of one of Cristi’s sisters, who got into an auto accident the night before Sunday, which resulted in everyone in the family not getting a wink of sleep… yet they still came! Despite Cristi telling us the day before they were planning on attending church, for some reason I felt for the first time the need to go and help them. Satan placed many obstacles in our path on hour two-hour hike to their home that Sunday morning. Satan tried several time to get us to turn back, starting with the  bus not going up the hill until 9am, and wasting a bunch of time trying to locate a bus that even went up there. With every drop of sweat, we wanted to turn back. Nevertheless, a still small voice persisted within me to keep climbing the hill.

Although every step of that climb was exhausting, it was not until we made it to the top that we realize that God was already one step ahead of Satan. Even though the family didn’t get a wink of sleep, everyone got into the car and we all went to church together. Even though I felt guilty that they went on no sleep, they told us that it was exactly what they needed to feel better.

Their main worry about being baptized, is that they see so many people in the aldea go inactive. To ensure that doesn’t happen, they want to create good habits of keeping the commandments before being baptized…which is awesome to hear! It was comforting to hear them say to me, whether I am here or not, they will be baptized, and will make sure to send me photos.

It is during those times of hardship that have motivated me to work even harder.

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The mission has really helped me learn to appreciate having my faith tested. If it was not for the disappointment and hardship I have experienced in the mission, my faith would not be strong enough to recognize the miracles that I have witnessed in the mission. It is during those times of hardship that have motivated me to work even harder. After having only one investigator attend sacrament meeting for the last 3 weeks, this motivated me to give even more of myself until we achieved our goal 24 investigators in sacrament meeting this week (a family of 18, and another family of 4… a referral from the Zone Leaders). This amazing Sunday attendance yesterday was a tender mercy from the Lord. And I’m certain it would have never happened if it wasn’t for a trial of our faith.

I can’t let God down now by getting baggy

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How can I be baggy when I have a baptism of a family of 18 to prepare for? Claudia, who is just waiting for her divorce with her husband to finalized so that she can be baptized, along with a family of 18 are preparing to be baptized on the 17th of December! If I’m not working, how can I expect the Lord to bless me with such a big miracle with which to end my mission? God has already been so merciful with me, helping us get this family to go to church on Sunday. Our faith had surely been tried when only Clauida had kept her commitment to go to church for the last 3 weeks. Ever since we decided to work even harder to find more people to teach, rather than getting disheartened, we were able to show God enough faith to be able to see such a huge miracle. During this last appointment with them, they inquired about what they need to do to prepare themselves for baptism, it is looking very likely that God has already put into their hearts the desire to be baptized, so I can’t let God down now by getting baggy. It is only through my diligence that He will be able to use me as an instrument to bring these precious souls unto Him.

When we cease to put on the armor of God, and think that we are strong enough to go without it, that is when Satan attacks and spiritually kills us.

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Last thing I heard about the Mendez family is that after Andres realized that he let Satan get the best of him, he burst out in tears feeling bad that he disappointed his family. He is now back on track to get baptized, but due to how much his faith weakened resulting from being unprepared to be baptized, now Elder Cubas and his new companion are struggling quite bit to get him to feel prepared again to be baptized. I guess he fears falling again. As long as they stay ahold to that desire to be baptized, they should be fine.

Even though it was hard seeing the Mendez family’s baptism fall apart after being so ready, the Lord definitely helps fill that whole in my heart through the several impressions He gave us throughout this week which allowed us to find various positive people, starting with the Lopez-Rivas family, who is currently looking for a church to join, due to the trials they are currently experiencing as a family. unspecified8How we found them was following the Spirit which prompted us to contact a home that would have been so easy not to contact due to the fact that Whitney had already contacted it before. Although we found ourselves questioning why we felt impressed to contact this home, we soon found out why. The owner wasn’t even home, and the house cleaner informed us that she had always wanted the missionaries to come visit her, but just assumed as a result of never seeing them that they just didn’t come out to where she lived. We soon began to realize why. After making our way out to Solke it became apparent to me why the missionaries have never come out there. It took a half hour pickup ride, and we still had to walk another half hour to get to the house. Running the extra mile for the family definitely paid off since not only was the house cleaner present, but she had also gone ahead and invited her whole family over for the visit. After how good they felt from the priesthood blessing we gave them, there is no doubt in my mind that they will complete their commitment to go to church this Sunday, followed by a baptism of the 10th of December… especially since they invited us over for lunch this coming week, which is always a sign of a positive investigator!

Following the Lopez-Rivas family, the Spirit led us to find Dina, whose supplications to God that if he would send missionaries to her home, she would not harden her heart. We are now helping Dina prepare to be baptized on the 3rd of December.

Apart from Dina, we found Estuardo and his family. Estuardo had been praying that the Lord would put the missionaries in his path again. Apparently he regrets rejecting us in the past, when we contacted him on the street. When we found his home several days later, he expressed remorse for not letting us come by and visit his family when we met him the first time.

 

JAKE’S RESPONSE TO THE NEWS THAT AN EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBER AND A FRIEND HAD FALLEN AWAY FROM THE CHURCH:

unspecified11If only these people would not stop doing the small little things, like reading the Book of Mormon, going to church, praying, which may seems like very insignificant things, but really are the cornerstones to a firm testimony, which is why the church leaders always stress doing them so much, even though our self pride is what makes us think that our foundation in the gospel is strong enough that we don’t need to keep doing those simple things. They drill these things into our heads ever since we were little. When we cease to put on the armor of God, and think that we are strong enough to go without it, that is when Satan attacks and spiritually kills us. When we abstain from doing the things that we want to do on the Sabbath day, and do the things the Lord wants us to do, that is when the Sabbath day will become a delight for us.

As Elder Ballard said in the last General Conference, the Restoration was not just a one-time event, it is ongoing. As the Church continues to grows, the questions that fuel our doubts will be answered. When we have those doubts, we just have to hold on to the precious gospel truths that are found in the old ship Zion! We have to remember that every adult who is in the Church is there because at one point they all have received a confirmation from the Spirit that this is the true church. We just have to reawaken those feelings within them.

Entering the home stretch… a big push to the finish line!

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The week of getting baptized is always the hardest week for the investigator because Satan works extra hard to get them to fall. That is awesome that Tayla was able to resist falling! Sadly, the same cannot be said for my investigators this week. Ironically, I was a worried about showing up late to the Mendoza family’s baptism, due to an appointment we had. Upon arriving a half hour late, I discovered that I had no need to be worried about being late. When I arrived, the members were still being in the process of doing the last minute preparations before the baptism. Chapin Standard Time at its best!  The only thing that was a little alarming was that the Mendoza Family had not even arrived yet, despite the fact that they are usually the first ones to arrive at activities. Fearing that the Mendoza family let Satan get the best of them, I quickly called Elder Cubas to see what was going on. Cubas informed me that Andres had not gotten back from work yet. This was odd because Andres has always gotten off from work at 12, and it was now 3:40. So we made my way over to their home. When we arrived, we discovered that Andres, out of anger, had hit his wife and stormed out of the house, and had not come back home since. After waiting there until 5pm, we finally decided that we were just going to have to postpone the baptism. It was heartbreaking to see yet another baptism fall through the last minute… starting with the family in Panca whose baptism never happened after it fell through. It was at least reassuring to hear Maria and her kids invite me to come back again when they do get baptized… which means there is still hope for the Mendoza family. Please keep them in your prayers this week. It does worry me a bit that they might end up feeling like the old man in my first area who stopped going to church because he felt that he disappointed everyone when he didn’t get baptized.

unspecified5Other than the sadness I felt for the Mendoza Family’s baptism not going through, I have been keeping myself fairly busy finding new families to teach, which has been helping me keep me distracted these last three months. In my new area there is a lot of damage control that needs to be done since the Elder that was here before me was super “baggy,” and did not work at all his last two months. Just to make the matter worse, the members are now super hesitant about working with us. I do not even dare to tell them how much time I have left in the mission for fear that they will assume I am baggy like the other elders. Apparently the ward members have a super bad impression about elders who are finishing the mission due to how many elders who have finished their missions super baggy in this area. I don’t understand why elders get baggy when it should be the exact opposite. Missionaries in their last three months should want to take advantage of the short time they have left. I feel now that my mission is coming to a close, and I have been working harder than I have ever before so that I can bring as many families to the gospel before I finish. Hopefully, through my hard work, I can convince the members here to change their opinions of missionaries who are finishing their missions. I do have to admit however, that one thing that is hard when you have 21 months in the mission field, is that you get tired faster. Before, when I would get home at the end of the day, I would have energy to make dinner and to read the scriptures, but now I just collapse in my bed the moment I get home.

Did I not tell you in my last email that I got transferred just a block away from my last area? This is why I was going to be able to see the Mendoza’s family’s baptism. My new companion is another tall gringo named Elder Whitney… and of course, he is from Utah. I don’t understand why every time President Smith puts me with a gringo, it always as to be some super tall guy. I know there are tons of other gringos who are just average size. What gives??

Loving the Humble and Meek People

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I have grown to love the Mendoza family so much! It is going to be hard for me if I am transferred and I am not able to witness their baptism. I have been there every step of the way of their progression. I still remember the first time they prayed and just repeated the steps of the pray [see blog on ]. Now they are prepared to be baptized. Preparing them for the baptismal interview was not be an easy progress. These are very simple/humble people. It has been a head-ponding process just to help them understand what a prophet is a first. As they have grown in spirituality, it has been much easier helping them to understand everything else. Even Mari, who was always floating up in cloud-9 the first few times we visited them, has come a very long way. Her lack of knowledge in Spanish has made it very difficult to understand everything we taught her [her native language is Quiche]. The Mendoza family is just so meek, which is probably why I love them so much. It is like teaching precious little children. On the other hand, the Calmo family is such a fun family! They sure enjoy joking around and having fun. Sadly they have been criticized in their evangelical church… to the point that they no longer have a desire to go there anymore. This gives us the perfect opportunity to do what the evangelicals do with our inactive members. We have an opportunity to befriend them with all the members of Tojocaz. 

“PRIMERO DIOS”

This week I shared with Jake an experience with one of our investigators in our home ward who is making great progress. We invited him to church; he accepted the invited, but never showed up. This is what he said:

The only difference between American culture and Guatemalan culture is that for Guatemalans, three hours church on Sunday is normal, since people here go to church every day, while in the states, not so much. But when it comes to “primero dios,” it is the same story. [Jake is referring to how Guatemalans will say “primero dios” (God willing) whenever you invite them to church… which is code for “no, I won’t be coming.”]