Speaking of being the only gringo in the district, I think I'm also one of two gringos in the zone haha. Just realized that yesterday. So things are pretty interesting! But, things are going good. This last week was... well exactly how Dad described it (sorry Dad, didn't break the trend very well). We went from lots of success the week before to a wake up call from Satan basically. Things just didn't seem to happen how they should have. Things kept coming up with investigators and we hardly taught any of our progressing investigators. But, no matter! We still worked hard and suffered in the heat and have made plans for these next weeks to work more organized in certain sectors of our area, and also with the members! So, with all that work, we were rewarded today and yesterday with a relief from the heat! And all this week is supposed to be in the 20´s, it's so GREAT!!! I actually was cold this morning when I woke up. It was a miracle haha :) But, despite all the hard stuff that came up, we ended well. And yesterday I called the Alaniz family to get the number for Aida, and I talked to them for a while (by the way Mom and Dad, they say THANK YOU very very much for the Christmas card, they loved it). And it was funny because Hermana Alaniz asked to talk to me and she kept avoiding saying goodbye. Something always came to her mind to say, so eventually I had to say goodbye and hang up haha. But it made me feel loved so I won't complain. :) Then I talked to Aida, and we had a good talk, and she sounded excited to talk to me. I guess she doesn't even remember my last name (let's be honest, hardly anyone does down here haha, it's too hard to say). So she calls me Elder Gringito (little gringo bascially) but that was a nice talk too. Everything turned out good and she sounded very happy! So that was a good way to end such a crazy week.
So Monday we did have our asado with the Gutierrez family! And it was really good. I ate so much... but mostly meat, so that of course sent me back to all the days of being full after eating at Tucano´s haha, but it was homemade and that is always better (although I miss the pineapple...). And I guess Jorge the son´s birthday is coming up not this week but next week and they already invited us over for another asado. So that's three for sure! But yes, this one was better than the first, it was a real asado not just a quick lunch thing. I have pictures but not very good ones, Elder Galica has all the good ones. I'll ask for them and send them later.
Well Nathan and Kate sound super busy, as usual! How do they do all of it? They definintely got the multi tasking genes, since I had a hard enough time with choir, soccer, hanging out with friends, and reading hahaha. That is a pretty nerdy descrpition of myself, but I can't deny it. Oh well. But they are doing everything!! Nathan, I'm sorry you keep getting injured. Just remember, I've already been there. I don't know why, but it happened every year for me, something big. Hopefully you don't get the same bad luck!
As for the stake dance, I agree with Dad´s statement about the crutches. And I laugh at Nathan´s response, it seems like he has adopted a little bit of Yeager-attitude. Oh well, maybe it will serve him well haha. (Nathan rolled his ankle pretty badly Friday night in a basketball game and was on crutches this weekend. Jeff accused him of using his crutches to get sympathetic dance partners at the stake dance. Nathan responded with "As if I needed crutches to get dance partners!")
As for Kate, that's pretty cool that she sang a duet! And with the time difference, we were probably singing within hours of each other! I don't remember if i said anything last week but we are singing in the stake choir for stake conference in March, because the director sister asked us missionaries to join because she is always missing men. And yesterday, we had this one older hermano who was taking charge of the basses and he sings good, and has a really low voice, and I had so many urges to correct different parts of the song that we were singing wrong (thanks choir, after 5 years I still have those instincts haha, glad I haven't lost it all, although my voice is suffering from singing so much with a gap of almost 2 years). But at one point I corrected one part with the piano(no one knows how to play really, the hermana that plays our parts learned just so she could play our parts for us. They asked us when we got there if we knew how to play...... Mom, I'm sorry I quit learning piano. I said no, but I think with my few months in Justo Daract playing the keyboard, I could maybe help a little more.) So yeah, after that, the hermano that had taken charge made me stand in the middle because I learned the part really fast(again, thanks choir) and had everyone listen to me, and made me sing solo a few times. So that was... exciting? embarrassing? Not sure. But, I felt good that my past had helped me quite a bit. So yeah, that was our Sunday! A few hours of singing, and at the end this hermano was announcing to everyone that I was a really good singer and that all the parts should put the best singer in the middle and listen to them. THAT part was embarrassing. I may have been in jazz choir and men's choir and everything, but I never considered myself to be that good of a singer. Just good enough to keep the tone haha, so that was a nice surprise I guess. It's just hard to ignore my "ooh wrong note" instinct. Oh well, it's all worth it. Elder Schirner, our zone leader, doesn't like to sing, so it's entertaining being in choir with him because he just likes to talk. He told me a bunch of things that happened to them last week because he didn't want to sing, hahaha poor guy. He cracks me up.
Kate is going to play soccer??? WHOO HOOO!!!! That makes me happy. It's the sport of the world, haha. Kate, it doesn't matter if you feel like you aren't a good player, I felt that way always. It's why I didn't play the first year of competitive with Jalen and Blake and Ryan and Ben and everyone. But I regretted it A LOT. Just enjoy it! Plus, if Kent is being so flexible, take advantage too! You can do what you like best, but give soccer your best effort! I know you´ll like it, it's in our blood :)
Haha it made me laugh knowing the two boyfriends of Morgan and Kenzie came to Grandma´s house. What an experience! It's a different world there :D But, you have to get used to it if you want to be included in this awesome family in any way! Dad said Kelly and her mom came over too! I imagine she was a little more used to it than they were. It just made me laugh imagining how they felt (the Jakes, I mean--our cousins Kenzie and Morgan are both dating guys named Jake). What a crazy house and family... But hey, there´s a first time for everything, right?
No I haven't gotten any mail or packages for the last two weeks or so, just becuase the zone leaders haven't gone to any meetings, with transfers and everything happening. But this next week or after we should get some mail. I'm still looking forward to it! And yeah, I wanted to ask, what on earth is Jalen wearing, not to mention his companion? Don't tell me he blew 500 euros on a suit or something? Haha that would be a little over the top. But thank you for the pictures! Chris looks as happy as ever haha. If you send me pictures of them, are you sending them pictures of me?? Which ones are you sending?
Anyway, that's really all for this week too. We had a rough week, but there were still little miracles that happened. Like I said, it all depends on the perspective. We have set up plans to visit all the really active members and try and do divisions with them or visit their neighbors or friends with them. We receive so many references from them, so yes there is definitely some potential in the future of this transfer! We had a high point the week before, and I don't intend on letting that be the peak, I'll at least match it if I can't pass it. We both have that goal, so we´ll be working together of course to achieve it!
There was just one thing I wanted to share from the reading assignment this morning. We read Mormon chapters 8 and 9 and Ether chapter 1. But I want to share some verses from chapter 9, the last one in Mormon.
"15 And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.
16 Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?
17 Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?
18 And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.
19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust."
Basically, these verses stood out to me alot because they reminded me of what Alma teaches to Korihor, the antichrist, in Alma chapter 30. But also as I was saying last week about miracles, this stood out to me even more, after having experienced so many of these spoken miracles personally. I wish I had the power to speak like these old prophets. I have no doubt their words were so powerful and full of the spirit, and it would be so hard to ignore them when they spoke! Yet, as it says in verse 20 that acording to the people and their dwindling in unbelief, it's possible to not believe. But the great thing is that THAT part is left up to us, to believe or not. God can make us believe, but he isn't going to do that. He expects us to give it our best effort and then He is allowed to reveal the truth to us. Like with the Book of Mormon, we can´t know if it's true or if it's false if we haven´t read it ourselves, asked God, and received an answer. There may be lots of people out there who say it's false, but the majority of the time they haven´t even tried to read it. It's from God, or it's not. and who can tell you which one it is? Only God. And He isn´t going to lie, He can´t. Like it says in verse 19 He does not change! I remember a verse from Moses chapter 1 verse 4 that says " 4 And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease." He cannot change or lie. So, if all these miracles happened in the past, how is it possible to say that these miracles have ceased, that God doesn't talk to man anymore like he did to Moses and Adam and Noah and all of His ancient prophets? If He Himself has declared in the scriptures that He is an unchanging God, then He means it, and He hasn´t changed. These miracles still happen today, but only by those who have the authority of God, who have faith sufficient to perform or witness them, and only in the name of Christ. The world we have is the most obvious witness that God is a God of miracles, who with mere words created this earth, everything on it, including us. Like it says in Alma 30:44, everything points to God, because He is the Creator of all things. So, if all of these things are still happening today, well why don't we see them as often? Again, it depends on our righteousness, our efforts to follow Him, our faith in Christ, the Son of the Living God, and our perspective. Obviously the world isn't in the best condition today, but that doesn't mean that God isn't working miracles. We are just so distracted by all the bad that we overlook the small, powerful details and miracles. The Book of Mormon is one, as the Bible says, "by their fruits ye shall know them" referring to the prophets. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, this is his fruit, and those who want to know if it's true, just have to try it out. Start reading, pray, ask God, and you´ll find out for yourself. I wouldn´t be here if that didn´t work, so you have my witness that it does. If anything, let that be enough to give you the will to at least try! It really is a miracle that we have the authority of God, prophets and apostles, and faithful followers and disciples of Christ still in this day, with all the distractions and sins that surround us. Let's just try and keep our eyes focused on the good, the wholesome, the happy, the miracles worked by the servants of God. That will help us have a happier life, don´t you think?
Anyway, just keep on pushing through with whatever you are facing in life right now! There is always the good after the bad, but also there is always bad amidst the good, we just have to make sure we make the most of the good, and learn from the bad! It's hard, but it's how we grow. Just keep focusing on the miracles in the world, and not the maldades (sorry, that's in Spanish because I wanted another m word. It just means evils) I love you all! February is almost over, what happened? Can´t wait to see what the next weeks and months bring for us all!
Elder Tyson Gibbons