This week has been one of the best.
We didn't have anyone come to church this week, but I've really learned a lot this week and felt a lot of changes. The biggest is when I had my "I'm actually a missionary" epiphany. It happened on Thursday when we came back early.
Pause... Let me explain why we came back early. We were looking for things to do so we decided to try and get into this apartment complex to try and find more people. There are buildings like this everywhere that hide so many houses, but you can't get in because the area is so unsafe that they only let in the people who live there. So we decided to pray first to see if we could get a little extra help trying to get into this place. So we went behind a bus that wasn't being used so we weren't praying in the street. Right in the middle of the prayer we heard a loud bang. At first I just thought it was a really REALLY loud engine backfire, because that's what always happens here. Then I thought, "Wait, that was an actual gun shot." Right after I thought that, we heard another one. I finished up the prayer and saw a cop, about 100 ft. from us, get back into his car and drive off. He had shot twice across a freeway, at some robbers probably. I almost instantly felt a feeling like, "just go home." I was glad because this happened right around the corner from our house.
Now that you are caught up, I had some extra time to just sit and think. I realized how crazy it was that I'm a legit missionary. It's something I've waited for for so long. Years and years, and now I'm official. It's such a thrill to see my name next to Elder on paper work too. And having those small moments where the Spirit prevails in a lesson are such great blessing. I absolutely love everything about the missionary work and the tough parts just make the good times even better. I absolutely love my sector. (Despite how Ghe-TOW it really is)
I especially love my ward. That's one thing I really felt this Sunday. There are only a few members who are truly active and help the missionaries. Those people mean everything to the ward, and I love them so much. I already would be sad to leave these people behind.
The next day we were reading in "Preach My Gospel" and we read all the intro stuff from the First Presidency. As we were reading it my perception of my sector changed completely. It's not just this little plot that I've been placed in. This is my "part of the vineyard" that I've been given to harvest, and now I really think of it as my sector of the vineyard. It's such an incredible honor to be able to be entrusted with a piece of God's greatest work. I was so grateful for that experience. It's helped me change my views and attitudes of work everyday.
Last night we met with the Gonzalez family. We found the dad because he was visiting a member when we stopped by his house. The member, José Albuja, said that before he would joke around with the missionaries, but wouldn't want to listen to the message, but this time it was serious. We had an incredible lesson with them and the presence and testimony of José made all the difference. The Spirit testified strongly and there was a lot of trust in what we were saying because of the support from their friend. Working through the members truly is the best way to work, and the only way to work if you plan on retaining the converts. I really value that experience this early in the mission.
Finally, we had a lesson with a girl named Brenda. Her family is super-hardcore Evangelical and were saying some untrue things about us. We asked her if she felt that these things were true and especially that the Book of Mormon is true. She just kept saying that she was so confused because she was caught between what we were saying and what her family was saying. Elder Robinson was getting super frustrated because he would say, "What do you have to do to not be confused?" "Pray." she'd say. "Ok, will you pray?" he'd say. "I don't know. I'm so confused." ...This went on as a near eternal round until we finally got her to pray. I explained what she had to do with all the faith and love that I could muster. As she finished the prayer a gentle wave of peace came over me and the tension in the room dissipated. It was amazing. She too felt better as a result from the prayer. Elder Robinson told me afterwards that his frustration was swept away and he too felt the peace that was there. It was such a great reminder that the Book of Mormon is everything people say it is, and my testimony is again strengthened.
I want everyone to know for sure that I know the Book of Mormon is a true book from prophets who held the true authority from God. I am not here because it was expected of me. I am serving this two years away from home show to the people of Ecuador that God is the same today, tomorrow, and forever. For that reason I want everyone at home to know the same. That truth is on the Earth and it can be found in a powerful testimony that all can attain through the Book of Mormon. Love you all so much, and I testify of this truth in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.