I want to share with you some of the experiences that we have been having here in Caballito. The following is an exerpt (most of the letter minus maybe two short paragraphs) from my letter to President Gulbrandsen this week:
"We've been seeing miracles here! Last week week we were able to find many people to start teaching. We didn't have almost any people to teach, and things were rough because many people in the ward had lost confidence in the elders from past actions. But when we started having meetings with the ward presidencies, we were able to get many names of less active people whom we could visit (seeing as only about half of the 5-5-5 list belongs to our area). On Sunday night last week, we passed by the house of one of those 5-5-5 families and knocked on the door. As always, we had done the prayer beforehand to find new investigators, men and families. Through the door, they asked who we were and we replied the missionaries. They asked us if we could come by the following night since they had people over in that moment, so we set the hour with them. When we passed by last Monday for that house, we knocked at the appointed time and they opened the door. We greeted them as our brother and sister from the church, but much to our surprise, they told us that they were not the family we were looking for. The 5-5-5 family had moved about two months ago, but they invited us in and they tolds us a little bit about themselves. They are a young family, a couple with four kids, only one baptism age, but all with a strong Christian background. The wife had even spoken with missionaries several years ago! After we taught them the first lesson, they agreed to a baptismal date!! We were almost shell shocked with the blessings we had been given.
"Then the following day, we were walking past a recent convert's place, who wasn't home, trying to find out why they hadn't been coming to church in a while and there was a woman who stopped us just around the corner. She told us that her son had been baptized a few months ago in Juncal, but that since they had moved here, he hadn't been to church. She asked us to come by the next day to speak with him. We still haven't really been able to talk with him, but in the process of the week, we discovered that no one else in her family were members but this one son, so we began teaching them and now both the parents have baptismal dates as well.
"Through constantly praying, trying always to improve in our planning, and opening our mouths we also found a few other people who are willing to listen to us and have set a few other dates, some of which did not get to church despite our plans. But now we have firm testimonies in the tender mercies of the Lord. We have been blessed a lot according to our obedience and our diligence. Since Elders were put in this ward, the teaching has been slow, but by not losing faith and constantly and consistantly trusting in the Lord, we have been able to witness miracles.
"Another thing that we have started doing is praying after almost every visit to thank God for what we were able to accomplish and to help us as we prepared for the next visit. In all that we have improved upon, I think that my personal testimony of the importance of obedience and diligence has grown significantly. I'm anxiously looking forward to the future opportunities here in this ward, and the leaders are seeing our progress and have begun to trust us more. They see that we are willing to work and have begun to work more with us. That perhaps is one of the biggest miracles."
I was super happy to hear about things back home. Brandon, thanks for the message you sent about working with the ward members, we've looked over them and will be applying several in these last two weeks of this transfer.
We have been so blessed as we have continued in this area to study and pray as a companionship. I think I now understand why I had some of my "disagreements" with my last companion. I've had to help Elder Jackson learn some of the same things that I learned from Elder Abaroa. Notice I didn't say I taught him. I helped him learn them on his own. We've been learning so much together about ourselves and how to become not only better missionaries, but also better men.
And, as we have been working together with the ward leaders and the families that they wanted us to visit, they have grown to have relationships with us as well. They trust us with their families and their homes and have opened themselves up to coming with us to our visits. In our finding efforts and bringing people to church, we're slowly getting better and the leaders are seeing the results of those efforts now. The Bishop was particularly pleased that we brought a couple yesterday and enjoyed a chat with them about how they liked church. The woman in the couple also got to know the ward employment specialist and they will be working together to help her find a job that their family desperately needs.
Things are now progressing more rapidly and we have really been witnessing the blessings of God in our area. These people are our brothers and sisters, our own family members, and we are helping them to get to know our Father a little better. The two things that I think I enjoy most are feeling God's love for the people, something that He has blessed me with from time to time, and seeing the light in someone's eyes as they gain a testimony of the truth.
This is the true gospel. Ours is the only church on the Earth today with the full and restored power of the priesthood, with all of the sacred and holy truths that were taught by our Savior and King. With both the Bible and the Book of Mormon together, we can and will come "to know...God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He] has sent." I know it is true.
I love you all and pray for you daily.