You get what you give, or something like that. After a revelling letter last week, brimming with the pride that I was speaking against, this week has been tough. Hahahaha, not really much left to do now but laugh at myself and "redouble" my faith, as Elder Gene R. Cook said in one of my favorite BYU talks ever. Apart from a quality baptism, mi amigaso Pablo Salvatierra, there was really no progress in any other investigator.
I'm gonna frame the week, which has helped me rethink my attitude and gratitude, speaking of 4 mothers I know.
The first is La., P's mom. She's great. Wants nothing more than peace at home and food on the table. She has supported P a ton these two weeks in which we've prepared him to be baptized. She is struggling, especially with L, who got baptized thebefore I got here, who may or may have not been very prepared, and has since turned quite a bit rebellious and has ditched Church and her house as much as possible. Anyways, what I'd like to say about La., is that I've seen in her an honest and sincere desire for good and truth that is rare here and now. I had a phenomenal conversation with her during P's interview. She has a lot of family problems and lots of spiritual hunger, whether she realizes or not. She'll be tougher to get to feel the Spirit and convert, but I feel strongly (I know) that she has a large role to play in the building up of Zion in these latter days. Stay tuned for her progress, slowly but surely.
2nd: Señora Tejerina (not to be confused with the Bishop's wife in Limache, who is really really good.) Sra. Tejerina is the mother of a large, grown up family in which we'd taught 2 lessons to a few of the children this past week. Found them Monday, and they were looking like really good prospects. However,when we went for the 3rd cita (appointment), Sra. Tejerina comes out. She is a devout follower of the Virgen Maria, and let us know. She was just really rude and closed off, and basically things aren't looking that good for a family full of potential, given her sending us away empty handed . Just frustrated me a lot. Here in Argentina, it always seems that just 1 family member has such a negative influence on the rest of their humble, sincere family.
3rd: Mar. (Not to be confused with la Madre de Jesús)
We wentmorning to walk together with D. (her concubine), and their family (whoever wanted to go) to Church. We get there, and Daniel is a bit out of sorts. Their 12 year old daughter had gone missing all night, and they were worried sick, rightfully so. 5 mins passes, and Mar., her mother, rolls up on the moto. She gets off, and goes straight for R. (daughter) and slaps her. She yanks her hair, and drags this poor, screaming 12 year old girl into the shack. Talk about a sick-to-my-stomach moment in which I can't do anything. As missionaries, we can't ever be physically involved in any sort of confrontation. Man, it killed me to see this mother, clearly acting out of some weird sort of deeply-rooted love, drag her daughter into the house.
Anyways, R escapes, and Mar. comes out of the house with a belt in her hand. In this moment, my senior companion is off to the side, and my heart starts beating like a drum. I often think about choosing faith or choosing doubt, and in this moment, I said "screw it," chose faith, and stepped in front of R. Testing my Spanish, I commanded: "Hermana, DON'T DO IT" The Spirit took over, and she backed down. I was just thinking, this whole time, about showering this family with love. I could tell that Mar. was worried about her daughter, but, at least in my eyes, such a motherly worry should NEVER be communicated with a belt. Just doesn't make much sense to me. I told her repeatedly, "violence isn't the answer. Show your daughter love, please, show her your love." We were able to calm them down, and had to leave for Sacrament meeting.
(On the bright side, but not too relevant to the juxtaposition of my 4 mothers comparison:) Around 6, we went back to teach them. Kinda awkward approaching the shack, as everyone was outside, including the confrontational Jehovah´s Witness g-ma Elder Molina warned me about. We awkwardly convinced D. to pull out some chairs. I again said "screw it," chose faith, and penetrated the tarp covered kitchen, where Maria was washing dishes, and g-ma was roaming. Convinced Mar. to come listen, and also listened to g-ma strongly tell us that we are wrong and that God's real name is Jehovah etc etc. However, we got the family (minus g-ma) together for a few minutes. The kids escaped, but we were able to teach the Restoration. D. was hammered, and literally out of control (not unlike a few friends I know a few beers deep, unfortunately). He literally cut us off every five seconds, to the point that is was comically pathetic and everyone laughed. However, one of the highlights of my time here in Jujuy, was that Mar. told us she was actually really interested in what we said about Joseph Smith and wanted us to come back when he wasn't drunk. Oh, and I also assertively had D. give me his box of wine. He said, "What, you're gonna drink my wine?" Hahahah, I say, "Hhahaha no don't worry, I would never drink your wine. Im just gonna go dump it in the river." So, we successfully set another appointment with a family with their fair share of problems, that desperately needs the restored Gospel, even despite their aggressive JW influence.
Now, onto my 4th and favorite mother: Julia Blake
How incredibly grateful I am for you, mother. You have really raised me to be happy. Simply put. I see how sad life can be when mothers are misguided or to some degree, don't care. I don't know how to put it in words. When I was there, stumbling thru the closing hymn in sac meeting, and just smiled, and thought about all those hours you made me practice the piano because you KNEW it would help me out some day. When I see other missionaries give up and go inside because it's raining and 40 degrees all day, or not really care if they get up on time and exercise 30 mins, or spend way too much of their time and energy worrying about the World Cup in this precious time in which we've been literally called to serve our King, full-time, it makes me grateful for everything you've done to shape me into the person I am. It's hard being a missionary, but feeling the desires to do all I can to help others come unto Christ through His Gospel makes it worth it. I'm far from perfect, and need to improve a lot of things, but at the very least, I don't doubt what my mother has taught me. Mom, you and Dad are the reason I have a burning testimony of this work, the reason I actually LOVE getting soaked to the bone atbecause everyone else is asleep, just taking the day off. Man. I love this work. I love the Gospel, and I love my Savior. I wouldn't trade this time nor my testimony for anything else. Thanks mom.
I love you all,
Stay strong, stay faithful, don't give up,
It's incredibly cold at night, but the frozen mountains are dope.