Dear Family and Friends,
First, I got some GREAT NEWS THIS WEEK!!!!!
I wanted to let you know about how Brother Cabrera is doing! GREAT!
The Elders in Porvenir told me (the other day we got together for a meeting as zone leaders). They said he is working a ton in the work of the Lord, that his wife is the president of the Young Women, and they go in his car to reactivate with the Elders all the time. They are so happy and lots of their family members are being baptized.
Also, at last, the branch president, President Hilaccama, has been released after 15 years as Branch President. What a long calling for him. (haha) But he did so much work in that time. The new Branch President is our beloved Brother Cabrera! with 4.5 months as member they called him into the branch presidency :))))) I was so happy to hear that he is now working so hard too. He’s getting used to interviews, to activation, to all the work that is now asked of him, but they are happy, especially since so many are coming to church from his family! This month it looks like there will be 15 baptisms in the Branch! With all the activation, it’s growing a ton! That's soooo great to hear, no? I'm so happy for them.
This week has been really special. We had a mission spin (how do you say gira misional en ingles?) a mission tour or mission visit? from a member of the first Quorum of the 70: Elder Uceda. It was marvelous. First he came to Tacna, and the zones from Mollendo, Tacna, Ilo, and Moquegua came all [there’s a spanish-ism] to a meeting house in our zone here in Zone Alameda. We had a meeting with him from 2:45 to 7 and we were so amazed at how he taught. He taught us about something pretty simple, the obedience to the missionary handbook, and the standards that are in it contained, especially: Stay Together. He also talked about not Tuteando. No idea how to say that in ingles, but basically it’s a grammatical form that doesn’t really exist in English, apart from the closest thing which would be thee and thy.... but anyway, in spanish, it’s used to talk to people informally. Like as if the two are "bro´s" haha. Anyway, in Peru it is the way they normally talk to show more friendship. Elder Uceda came and talked about how we should never use that tense, because it detracts from the calling (I imagine the only one understanding this is mom... and Elder Johnson2 [speaking of Paul, who is currently in the MTC learning spanish, and a number of other spanish speakers who will read this letter]. Anyway, it was so powerful when he said: You have to be different. You are missionaries. He taught us about DyC 36:2 and told us to read it like this: And I will put my hand on thee by the hand of my servant President Hall. Wow that was an impressive application.
Next, we had a meeting with all the zone leaders in Arequipa with him and the President. He took another 2 hours out of his schedule to teach us about the process of the conversion. He talked about his personal conversion to the Church. He was a young person of 18 years and he met the missionaries and they gave him a Book of Mormon. He talked about how they both were from the United States (in that time there were very few members who were Peruvians) and one spoke very well, and the other hardly could speak spanish. He remembered thinking, this missionary must really believe what he is telling me, whatever it is, it must be true. He started reading it that night and read all night. He said he didn’t have hunger or thirst in that time and he just wanted to read, because it made him feel good and feel the love of God. The next day he told the missionaries that he wanted to be baptized. His first Tuesday after his baptism he went to mutual [a class at church for the youth]. He felt good, he felt like he belonged. His brothers who were a little more social than he went off immediately with some friends, and he, shy, stayed back. People were shuffling to and fro and they were talking and busy and he was standing there without knowing anybody... He started to feel uncomfortable... So, he started to read the announcement board... Still nobody came.. So, he kept reading. He read the whole thing, and nobody came over to talk to him, he looked around, everybody already knew each other... so he read the board again. The second time, the third, the fourth, the fifth.. nobody talked to him. He started to feel bad, he started thinking, “I should go home. I can go home, and I can be a good member of the church, but at home, I’ll read this book that makes me happy when I read it at home and I’ll do all God wants me to at home because I’m not wanted here I won’t come back. He looked to the door and started moving to go, and a young women leaves a classroom between him and the door. Shy, he looks down and doesn’t say anything. She says: Hello. He doesn’t say anything, She says, "Here’s a candy for you" He feebly looks up but says confused "No I don’t like candy" so she took his arm and walked him right into the room with the other young people, and presented him to them all. He said "Then I sat down, and stayed, and I’m still here"
Can you imagine what would have happened if that young women hadn’t been moved upon by the spirit to walk out? or if she had been shy about making friends with Elder Uceda? Wow.... it is quite a thing to think about. It’s really important to make friends with those who don’t have friends in the church.
Something that really impacted me was how he talked about the process of the conversion to the Church and the Gospel. He talked about all the complex things that are part of the missionary department, and all the staff and the MTCs of the world, the coordination, the part the Twelve [apostles] play, all the work they do, but that all comes down to the moment that 2 missionaries are in front of and investigator, and they are in front of the Book of Mormon, and God. Wow. It’s true.
An update on Renzol Vallejos! He’s doing great! He’s the one who showed up in church last week. He came yesterday too and is preparing for his baptism this Saturday! He got an answer to his prayer and is just anxious to learn all he can. He is great. Also, for the week after there is a man who is solid whose children prayed and asked the Lord if they should reactivate themselves and if the church really was true a few weeks ago. He decided to guide his family back to the church being baptized as they have been! The ward is getting animated too with some of the new things we are doing to get just great relations with them. I’m really enjoying my time with Elder Jones!
Love Elder Johnson