Sunday, June 25, 2017

Week 94 - "hello!!!" - June 18 - June 24 (Primavera)

This past week Jonah and Elder Nuñez were able to work with some missionaries in Casa Grande.  This was one of his previous areas and also a previous area of Elder Nuñez.  You can go back in the blog to weeks 63-74 (Casa Grande) if you would like to reminisce ;)  They had a good time visiting their area and working with the missionaries that are there now. 

I'm sorry, not a lot of time to write, and we have a cita (appointment) at 6 so we have to head out a little early. We had a great week! We had 2 interchanges, with Elder Schwan, Elder Guerra, Elder McKamey, and Elder Alles. Arizona, Nevada, Chile, Argentina. They were some great interchanges and we met some pretty amazing people those days. One, is named Juan. Elder Nuñez and Elder Alles contacted him and then Elder Nuñez and I went back to teach him just yesterday and he is so sincere. Most people we teach aren't very sincere, or they become sincere as we teach them more, but Hermano Juan as real sincerity from the very start. During the lesson, he mentioned that ''God messed up when he made us because we are doomed from the day we are born. How does he expect us to be good enough to make it back to Him?". He also mentioned something about how it all had started with Adam and Eve, so we read with him in 2 Nefi 2 where it talks about the Fall and how it was part of the plan. When he read the verses, especially the one that says, "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy", his face completely changed and tears welled up in his eyes. He was feeling the Spirit, and he knew that what the Book of Mormon said was true. He didn't know HOW that was true, so we explained it to him a little more and briefly explained why we are here and where we will go after this life, and he said ''I have never thought about it from that perspective''. We didn't have a lot of time to continue teaching him, but we invited him to come to church and to continue reading the Book of Mormon. He committed to doing both, and he did so with confidence. We then invited him to pray, and he said that he didn't know how to pray. We taught him, and he inclined to offer one. In his prayer, he thanked God for sending us to meet with him. And then he asked for forgiveness for all of the things that he had done in his life, and expressed his desire to be better and to follow Christ. It was such a powerful experience. When he ended, we all lifted our heads with tears in our eyes. He said that he was sorry for getting emotional and we laughed and said we're sorry too. Tomorrow, we are picking him up and bringing him to Church and will be presenting him to the ward members. It is so cool to be a missionary and see that happen first-hand. It's such a blessing to be here, and that's why I always joke about not wanting to come home because it just won't happen quite like it's happening right now ever again. 

Here is one other experience: One hermano told us that before he had talked to us, he had never had any interest in listening to any type of missionary. But when we offered to unload the things out of his car, he invited us in his home and sat down naturally to talk with us. In his prayer at the end of the lesson, he expressed his curiosity to God in learning more about the Plan of Salvation and commented that he was surprised at himself for letting us in. We know that he felt something different and, once again, thanks to Plan of Salvation, he has sparked a new interest in learning about who he really is. We also were contacting the surrounding the houses of the members and we had similar experiences as the first day."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Week 93 - "Full Week" - June 11 - June 17 (Primavera)

In this week's news Jonah talks about a skit that they did for a ward activity.  It is pretty funny to think that he had to act out a "bad gringo accent".  I imagine at this point in time he has become quite confident with the Spanish language.  We are looking forward to hearing him speak the beautiful Spanish language.  Last week we were in Mexico and we did not have to "act out" a bad gringo accent -it came pretty naturally.

So this has been a wonderful week!! On Sunday, Hermana Teresa Castillo was baptized!!! It was such a great experience and there was a sweet spirit during the service. Although...she was TERRIFIED of the water hahaha, it was very difficult for her to trust herself to go underwater. We had the ward help to heat up the water so it was nice and toasty, but she still was struggling. It took a little coaching to finally get her under the water haha, but she did it! The pictures are of her and her husband before the baptism. Her husband has Alzheimer's and is losing his memory quite a bit. Apparently, about a year ago, he hated the missionaries and would sometimes throw them out or yell at them. But now, every time he sees us, he gets SO excited! One time, he tried running over to us, but his body wouldn't let him, haha, he might've forgotten that he couldn't run. He usually doesn't recognize our names or that we're missionaries, usually we're lawyers or doctors or old colleagues of his, but every time that we are able to teach the family, he loves listening and asking us questions. His name is Daniel. Anyway, it was a great baptism and Hermana Teresa is super excited to now share the gospel with all of her friends.

On Monday, we had transfers and it was a big coordination to get all missionaries where they needed to be. It's always a little bit of organized chaos haha. On Tuesday, we were able to receive the news, and go to the airport this time. The new missionaries usually only have two feelings going on. One, confusion. Hahaha. I totally get it, I remember my first day arriving from the airport. I was so confused and lost. Maybe it's a little easier for missionaries that actually speak Spanish. And two, excitement. Most of them are grinning from ear to ear, sometimes they don't know why they are, but there is never a glum face. It's so reinvigorating to see new missionaries and feel that fresh vibe come from them. I love it! So we trained them a little in the morning and got to know them better, they met their trainers, had a meeting, and headed out to start working! Always a fun day. 

During the week, we continued to teach the Villanueva family (Maybe I only mentioned that to my mom last week) and they are progressing very well! We were wanting to invite the whole family to be baptized for the 16th of July, but the Darwin (the dad) had left with Beatrice (the 10 year old daughter), so we were only able to teach Blanca (the mom). But we still felt that we should invite her to baptism and then invite the rest of them for next time. So we did, and she accepted! She seemed a little timid, but when she comes to church tomorrow, we know that she will feel much more comfortable with her choice. They are such a wonderful family! Hopefully we can take a picture with all of them during the week. They have been prepared by the Lord!

It was very interesting...4 times this week, in distinct occasions, we have taught investigators about the physical resurrection and they have been completely blown away. They had no idea that that could ever happen and some of these people paused for long periods of time, thinking about how that knowledge changes everything they had ever planned on. They were so astonished and many did not believe us until we could show them both in the Bible and the Book of Mormon where it talks about the physical resurrection of all of God's children. In the area, we have been focusing on a new family that we found on Tuesday, and when we taught them about the resurrection, they were so happy and you could see it in their faces that they wanted to become an eternal family. It was incredible to see the results of having a full understanding of the Plan of Salvation and how it can completely change a person's perspective. I'm so grateful for the Plan of Salvation and I have been thanking Heavenly Father more about that ever since I realized that so many people do not know their eternal potential.

Just last night in the ward, we had a Father's Day Activity and it was so great!! We did a little number with the secretaries and we acted out a scene about Elder Nuñez training me at the start of my mission and that he was SUPER lazy but then he turned it around and then helped me out a lot. It mostly consisted of Elder Nuñez saying Argentine phrases and me talking in a REALLY bad gringo accent with bad grammer. We think the ward got a kick out of it. Anyway, the real best part about the activity is that we had the Villanueva family come and also several other investigators, plus a family that the secretaries are teaching. It was such a huge success and the investigators that came could really feel the warmth of the ward. We were so excited to present the whole world to the families that could make it, and the ward was so awesome in getting to know them and inviting them to family home evenings and inviting them to church for tomorrow. Really great missionary work experience.

Anyway, it was a busy week with a lot of cool miracles. I love being here! I'm so grateful to have the Restored Gospel in my life and that I understand who I am and who I can become. Life did start with our birth, nor will it end with our death. I know that because I have studied the scriptures and turned to prayer to know that God has a real plan for us and that we are a part of it. It gives me hope for the future, and I will depend on it when hard times and the deaths of loved ones come. If you want to know more about this plan or get a refresher, here's a cool link

I love you all so much!!! Have a wonderful week and keep trying hard!

Hermana Teresa Baptism Day

Hermana Teresa and Daniel

Villanueva Family

Not sure about this picture?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Week 92 - "Hey Ya'll" - June 4 - June 10 (Primavera)

I am updating this post while our family is on vacation.  We were able to get an internet connection and send some pictures and get this great email and some pictures from Jonah.  Looks like he will spend another 6 weeks with Elder Nunez.  That will be a total of nearly 6 months and he is so happy about it.  Read on for more great experiences this last week.

Well this week has been an interesting one...with some really super good news!!! So we are in the last week of this transfer and Elder Nuñez and I have been together for 3 transfers already, which is a pretty long time, and almost nobody gets 4 transfers together (its probably happened like three times that I've ever heard of). Anyway, we were pretty sure that one of us was going to leave, especially because its not likely that missionaries end in the office either. So we were ''cherishing every moment'' haha and just having a really great time these last 6 weeks, but then we were shown the new transfers that were going to happen, and Elder Nuñez and I are staying together for our 4th transfer!!!! We were seriously so pumped when we found out! There's a lot of work to be done and we feel like this will be a good transfer for baptisms. There is a family of 3 and a few other people preparing for baptism this next month and in July so we are excited to see what happens.

So we have been working with this lady named Teresa Castillo for a really long time, but kind of off and on because sometimes she was really busy with different things and got a little distanced from the Church, but just recently, she has finished with the busyness and is ready to get completely focused. So this Sunday, she is going to be baptized and the next week she will be confirmed! She got to know the Church about 2 years ago, and thanks to the hard work of many missionaries and through her own diligence recently, she will now be greatly blessed for this covenant that she will do tomorrow. We are super excited for Hermana Teresa. Our prayers have been answered and hers as well. I will be sending pictures for next week..hopefully everything turns out okay! Just yesterday, we visited her with our new bishop and it was such a powerful lesson. She had been worried about the principle of tithing for a long time, not because she didn't want to sacrifice, but because she didn't want to fail a single month in paying. So the Bishop bore an amazing testimony about his own family and how he was able to keep the law of tithing even as a very young couple while the two were both studying still in college and how many miracles occurred so that they could continue to fulfill this commandment. It reminded me of my parents...I remember them talking about their time as a very young family of 3, and that it was a large sacrifice at times, but that miracles would always occur to keep them moving along. It's interesting because in the scriptures it says that we should ''prove'' Him and His words and His blessings. I know that the Lord always fulfills His promises, and that as we live the commandments with faith, we can receive far more blessings that we can even receive. I've lived the Lord's promises, and I know that they are real, and that's the most amazing part. It's not just listening to someone talk about blessings anymore. It's actually receiving them and being rewarded for righteousness. That's one of the most important principles that I've learned on my mission so far. It sounds really simple, but the reality is that until we act on faith, or obey, we cannot receive any blessing. Duh, right? Haha, but its cool when it happens and you see it in your own life. Anyway, Hermana Teresa is going to be doing that as well this Sunday, and we're really excited for her.

This next Monday, missionaries will be doing their transfers and heading to their new areas. Then on Tuesday, we will be receiving the new missionaries, hopefully in the airport, that's always a lot of fun. It'll be a fun and packed week.

I'm excited to be here on a mission! I love every moment of it, and I'm still in denial that it's more than half-way over. I love you all so much! And I hope that you have a wonderful week! If you want to know if God is real, or if His blessings exist, try acting. Just try it and see if it works,  and I can promise that you will feel something new and fulfilling. Have an action-packed week!! Love you! 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Week 91 - "Busy Week" - May 28 - June 3 (Primavera)

Today's letter is going to contain some info from two letters.  One letter was written to everyone and some additional info pulled from a letter to his Mom.  He did not have time for pictures this week but I was able to find a couple that were posted last week on Facebook from Sister Marble.  He promises new pictures for next week!

So this last week has been pretty nuts. We had all 3 of the zone conferences that we're involved in, so we saw all of the missionaries in the whole mission except for Cajamarca in these past few days. This a list of all the zones:

Casa Grande (18 missionaries - Stake - 1 to 1 1/2 hours north of Trujillo)
Cajamarca (22 missionaries - Stake - 7 hours north of Trujillo)
Central (24 missionaries - Stake - Trujillo)
Esperanza (26 missionaries - Stake - Trujillo)
Este (22 missionaries - Stake - Trujillo)
Guadalupe (16 missionaries - District - 3 to 4 hours north of Trujillo)
Porvenir (18 missionaries - Stake - Trujillo)
Primavera (14 missionaries - Stake - Trujillo)
Oficina (4 missionaries - technically in the primavera stake, but don't count as a part of the 14 missionaries in the primavera zone)

On Tuesday, we were with Casa Grande and Guadalupe. They are usually very happy and very excited because you don't see each other quite as much when you are further outside of Trujillo. Although some of them have a 4 hour bus ride and the conference always starts at 8am so you can do the math to see how much they sleep the night before haha. Elder Israel is still out there in Casa Grande (my old companion) and is doing a wonderful job.

On Thursday, we were with Esperanza, Porvenir, and Primavera. It's our largest group and for whatever reason, they are usually the livelier missionaries haha.

On Friday we had Central and Este, and for whatever reason, they were super quiet and it was harder to get participation out of them, but it was still a great training. On those 3 days, we taught the missionaries about the role of the Holy Ghost, and how to teach our investigators to recognize it. It was a cool topic, and we enjoyed getting prepared for it as well.

Today was tranquilo, we did a lot of cleaning in our room and I went with Elder Moore so that he could go buy some scripture was really laid back, but I just kinda felt lazy with writing, so that's why I'm taking so long, sorry! 

Here's an experience that I shared with President in my letter to him today:
During this past week, we have actually been able to find several new people to teach that have been great references from the ward. The members are now taking us to visit their friends and family and we feel that we will start to have much more success now. Also, a very special experience happened in these past few days; during our training on Thursday, a lady came to the chapel and rang the doorbell asking if she could talk with missionaries. Hermana Bentley let her in and began talking to her, and it appeared that she had been looking for the missionaries for quite some time, but with little success. Hermana Bentley took her into a room, sat her down, and began talking with her. This lady expressed her desires to form a part in a church and to become closer to Christ and said that she wanted to help her family do the same, and began to cry, saying ''I never cry, why am I crying?'' Hermana Bentley explained to her the role of the Spirit (exactly what we were training about in a different room at the same time), gave her a Book of Mormon, got her address and phone number and told her that missionaries would come soon. That day, we called and set an appointment to visit her on Friday at 2:30pm. We knocked on her door the next day, and saw that she had been waiting for us. We taught the Restoration to her and her 10 year old daughter outside of the door, and they ate up our words. We asked them both what their desires were and this sister's daughter said that she had always wanted to be baptized and follow Christ. Her mother was in awe and broke into tears. She told us, ''I have never heard my daughter so happy and excited to do something before in my life!'' We invited both of them to be baptized and they both accepted, and also committed to come to church tomorrowOn Sunday, we will be teaching them again with her husband as well. It was such a wonderful experience and it became very clear to us that she had been prepared by the Lord and that after months of searching, her prayers were finally answered.

Love you all!

Elder Babbel

Pizza is always a good thing!

Office Elders and Sis. Marble