Friday, February 26, 2016

El Camiño de Santiago‏

Today's email will probably be shorter. The Bakers (the missionary couple assigned to Galicia was nice enough to take us to Santiago today to see the cathedral. They are the best! I've been wanting to see this cathedral since I first heard about it in my art history classes in High-school. Dreams are coming true.
My first week with Hermana Graff has been pretty awesome. She's a really hard working missionary and she's full of energy. I feel really lucky to be working with her. Despite the awesome companionship, we had a pretty slow week. Honestly, it felt like all of our appointments failed on us. Of course that's just sort of what happens with transfers.
Nonetheless, we saw some pretty cool things.
First off, on Tuesday we saw G. He's progressing retry nicely. Hermana Graff in order to get to know him asked him a few questions one of which being "What do you like to do?" His response: "I like reading this book," motioning to the Book of Mormon. We read a little with him, which he always loves. We talked with him again about baptism, and he was still worried that he's not ready to get baptized. We explained to him that that's why we're here, to help people prepare themselves to get baptized. After thinking about it for a while we were able to recommit him to be baptized on March 19.
A small miracle we've been seeing with him is that he's really opening up to the concepts we are teaching him and starting to connect the dots. We asked him at the end of the lesson what he's been observing about himself as he reads and goes to church. He said that he feels like he's learning a lot of things he never knew before. I asked him where he thought those feelings were coming from. He paused for a moment and thought about it and then said, "Well, it has to be the Spirit of God."
He's starting to recognize the Spirit within himself and follow what it's teaching him.
Later we met with Ad, El and La again. We needed to finish teaching the Plan of Salvation to them, but we felt prompted to explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ to La.
La REALLY wants to get baptized.
We had beautiful lesson with them on the plan of salvation and Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though she's a child, she knows the importance of having faith and repenting. She knows that being baptized is the right thing to do. We explained the principle of receiving a remission of sins through our worthiness in taking the sacrament and keeping the covenants of baptism. She REALLY wanted to get baptized after this. Especially so she could receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. She said she's willing to keep those promises throughout her life.
Her mom hit a home run when she explained that after learning about the Gospel that her daughter has become more honest and good. She bore her testimony about the Gift of the Holy Ghost and how it has changed her. She wants her daughter to have it as well.
At first her parents didn't want her to get baptized because they thought since they were so new to church, that she'd never be able to take baptism seriously. However, we have finally gotten Ad on board after explaining the necessity of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost at a young age in order to make good decisions. In fact she got really excited and said she hopes she serves a mission someday.
The catch is with the father. He doesn't think she's ready. We need to help him understand that making these covenants empowers, strengthens and helps us. The bar is set high, but the Lord gives all those who want to follow him the help they need to live up to his standards.
Also I learned something in my personal study this morning. Joseph Smith had taught about the story of Cornelius. He had received the Holy Ghost in order to confirm his testimony, but he needed to GIFT of the Holy Ghost in order to continue learning. If he didn't, his testimony would be fleeting. We're hoping that her father can understand that soon enough.
I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the sudden thought came to my mind to testify about the simplicity of it and how it does require us to become as children. Hence the reason we are baptized starting fairly young. I could see his face out of the corner of my eye and he was thinking pretty deeply on that.
Aa also got up and challenged her husband to get up and bear his testimony. He didn't. But she did also challenge the whole branch to pray for him to let his daughter get baptized. She has a strong personality, but I really appreciate it. After the meeting, apparently he just sent up the white flag of surrender and said "Yeah, yeah, whatever you want." It's a step, but we're going to work for a little more... We need his full support.
Ya veremos.
We also saw Kla this week. Oh boy... The sent us through a loop.
She really is ready to be baptized, she has a really beautiful testimony and she knows it's true. BUT she has started having a ton of doubts. This week she wanted to know all of this stuff about church history and President Monson and everything. She's So close, but she needs to learn how to resolve her own doubts. In Preach My Gospel it talks about how it's not our responsibility as missionaries to answer everyone's questions, it's our job to help them learn the Book of Mormon is true. Only they can do that for themselves. We can only point them in the right direction.
Kla does know that the Book of Mormon is true, but she's overwhelming herself. We're going to change her date.
Please pray for Kla, El and La this week.
We met again with J. He's doing pretty well. We taught him the Plan of Salvation, which he liked, but admitted at the end of the lesson, he feels he doesn't know that much. We committed him to be baptized the 5th of March. He's a little afraid, but frankly, I think he can make it.
We also met with his dad, Jo. It was nice to see him again, but we had kind of a weird lesson with him. It didn't look like he had been reading, so we picked back up where he left off in 1 Nephi 4 where Nephi kills Laban. We got to the part where the Spirit tells Nephi to kill Laban and he says that he doesn't want to. This is how it went:
"So Jo, if you were Nephi, what would you do?"
"Well... I guess I'd take the sword and kill him or something..."
That wasn't the answer we expected. Normally we get an answer mostly like Nephi's where he explains that he doesn't want to etc. But not o ...
Moving on.
We met with Mn and Mfe again to do Family History. I taught them how to index, and they thought it was really cool. Also, big news. Mn apparently found something about his family this weekend. Mfe called us last night to tell us the Good news. We're going to meet with them tomorrow to see what it is.
Also, Tuesday night, a man named Valere got our phone number and called us. He was interested in the English classes we offered and he came to the class. He actually speaks really good English... And Spanish... And Russian (he's from Russia). So he put us all to shame.
At the end we shared a message about the Book of Mormon. There is this great Mormon Message about this bishop in England and what he had learned through the Book of Mormon. His face lit up and he said he really wanted to learn more. He was really interested in religion in general, but he has doubts about churches. He wants more faith. We're meeting with him again this Wednesday.
The highlight of last week was that we got to go to a zone conference with a general authority. Joaquim Moreira from the seventy came to address us. He gave us a great talk about repentance and how that means we need to change our attitudes, beliefs and actions to become more like the Savior. For example, when we say something like "I'm in the North of Spain, there's no way that we're going to baptize anyone..." Well... We need to repent.
Also, I think he somehow knew that I don't keep a journal and looked directly in my eyes and told us as a group that we need to write all of our experiences down so we can remember our own paths to repentance. He called me to repentance...
We had a really good meeting with him afterwards with the zone leaders. He gave great suggestions on how to help our branches be stronger.
I went up to him afterwards and expressed my gratitude for what he had taught because it had answered a lot of my questions. He gave me a hearty handshake and genuinely thanked me for my comments and questions. I felt like a million bucks.
Also I thought like this was all pretty funny. He seemed really nice. We had gotten a phone call from one of the zone leaders last night relating to us how scary he was. Apparently when he did the zone conference in Madrid, he didn't just singe their eyebrows, he took them right off. I was really scared of the meeting, but honestly I thought he was great!
That's all for this week. Hasta pronto!
Hermana Sykes

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