Please Come to Church!

Dear Friends and Family,

What a great week it seems you have had! I am so grateful and inspired by all of you. Particularly in reading letters from Allie Schmutz and Spencer Lau [Editor: friends from back home in Omaha who recently returned from their LDS missions], it´s made me wonder how things will be when that awful day comes to take me home….I honestly don´t like to think about it, nor do I. And goodness me Anna is growing up like crazy her letter to me today…shocked me. My siblings  are really growing up.

Also, right now I´m writing to you all from the TV in my chapel. Oh technology, you are great! [Editor: see note at the bottom about the fried camera, however].  But this week was a goodie; a reminder of the need for constant repentance and improvement. Here are some things that I relearned 🙂

Simply Live Preach My Gospel

Elder Call and Elder Elmer.

So, on Wednesday, Elder Elmer was kind of in his own little space and not very communicative, so I was concerned. I asked if he was alright or feeling sick (he had been feeling kind of bad the week prior), and he always would just shake his head and say, ¨No, no, I´m good, don´t worry.¨ Hmmmmm…..that never helps. Perhaps one of the best lessons I´ve learned from the mission is the importance of real, honest, communication (especially listening and beginning with ´I´).

So on Thursday, in companionship inventory, I asked him what was really going on or if there was something that he would recommend that I change. He then gave me some great feedback:

  • ¨Just keep it simple when we teach!”
  • “Sometimes it seems like you are doing all of the talking, because you’re good at teaching, and there’s nothing left for me to say!”
  • ¨I don´t get the people here. Sometimes we teach and I think it´s so perfect, but then then don´t get it and then you say it and they get it. That really frustrates me!¨

Overall, we walked away with the goal to teach with more unity, more in balance, and more humbly (for me) – I have been using smaller, more basic portions that work better and testifying. I´ve also sought in this change to be a more PMG missionary – follow every little bit of direction I find as I study, be it in extending commitments, contacting people, working with church leaders.

And ya know what? Golly gee it´s like the Lord has it all written out perfectly or something (pardon the sarcasm)! In really trying to live Preach My Gospel and live every single little bit of advice from President Bush, it´s like magic, things just work out for the better. Elder Elmer and I are happier, working more efficiently, and inviting more people than ever to come unto Christ. I love it!

Make La Entrada a Ward! (And Copan a Stake!)

¨The key has been going to church every week to take the Sacrament. I come weighed down, and leave clean and ready to do what´s right. That´s what makes me happy.¨

So March is the month of church attendance; if the branch here in La Entrada achieves an attendance of 120 or more, then the mission is going to send the solicitud (I don´t know if that´s a word in English) [Editor: “request”] to the Area Presidency in Guatemala to have a stake here in Copan, which would be such a blessing here for the people. With a stake comes the higher blessings, greater wisdom and experience in the local leadership, more stability, people wouldn´t have to spend great amounts of time and money to send kids on missions, get patriarchal blessings, Apostles and Seventies could come, etc. What a blessing it would be!

So that´s be the goal in mind for my time being here; help all to come unto Christ, largely by coming to church to make or renew covenants. I´d say largely thanks to good local members who have helped us a lot (namely La Familia Guerra, La Familia Villanueva, and Presidente Merren), attendance has grown a lot – when I first got here in October, there wasn´t a lot of good vibes towards progressing to become a ward, the average attendance was at about 70 people, and overall not looking too great. Now there´s some push here to do it! People are more excited and committed and attendance bounces around 100 people. Still gotta improve, particularly across the board this month.

So in every single cita [appointment] we have, we make a special emphasis to invite people, be they investigators or less actives or active members, to come to church and bring others. More so, the investigators who come to church and stay there are the ones who experience a true conversion and progress towards baptism. My entire mission would testify to that.

Anyways, everywhere we go, we testify and invite people to come to Church. On Saturday, that´s basically the only thing we did from 10AM til 9:28PM (we ran home :); we visited all the investigators and less actives we could and shared the words of the Savior and His prophets, inviting them to come to Church. Some came, and many didn´t. Please pray for us here. we need divine help to help Copan become a stake (basically it´s ready to go except for our branch).

In one visit, an investigator asked Porfirio Villanueva (who I wrote about last week or the week before) what had been the key to his happiness and commitment in Church. Porfirio responded, ¨The key has been going to church every week to take the Sacrament. I come weighed down, and leave clean and ready to do what´s right. That´s what makes me happy.¨ What a powerful example and testimony; the Spirit was ringing in the room as we left.

Fast Sunday Lesson: Repentance (Weeds & Seeds)

I had a great interview with President Bush on Friday. At one point in the interview, President told me, ¨Well, Elder Call, you really are great and lifting others – but keep working at it. You can keep improving.¨ At first, I was surprised by that response, but as I fasted and prayed and came to the Sacrament, the Spirit taught me.

Repentance is a beautiful model of life in which the Lord chastens us and helps us to become better, if we really want to. The cleansing joy of forgiveness comes not only after we recognize and feel pain for our sins, nor even after we confess it to the Lord. You really have to work at it; nothing comes freely. But the miracle of the Atonement is that as you do your very best and ask for Christ´s divine help (grace), He will change and heal you. That´s why sincere repentance brings with it a change of perspective about oneself, God, and the world around them. As Dad put perfectly, repentance is ¨weeds and seeds.¨ That metaphor is a lesson of a lifetime that I reflect on daily.

Weeds & Seeds – Repentance has two parts. We are all familiar with the injunction to stop doing sinful or wrong things – to “pull the weeds” in our lives. But repentance is also about acting so that we draw closer to God. We choose to replace both the wrong behaviors in our lives, AND other behaviors that simply waste time and energy, with fruitful behaviors that bring us closer to Christ, and more like Him. We plant seeds, as well as pull weeds.

The joy I´ve found in my mission has come as others come to understand that, little by little. Perhaps now I´m a tad humbler so the Spirit is teaching me more deeply about it, little by little, line upon line.

Other Random News:

  • Jeison was ordained a Priest yesterday!
  • Be grateful for you constant, clean tap water – everyone here in La Entrada has been without water for at least 8 days. Thank heavens it came to our house this morning so I got to wash some clothes by hand 🙂
  • Kaylin Brisuela, one of our pilas investigators, is dating a super cool RM in our branch named Alejandro. He´s been kinda opposed to teaching with us because he doesn´t want her to get baptized just for him and then inactivate if they don´t work out. Yesterday, during church, he was teaching a adult Sunday School about the Priesthood, and afterwords she asked him, ¨So, Ale – you could baptize me, then? Because you have the power, right?¨ Alejandro was super pumped and told me then in Priesthood 🙂 We´ll keep you updated on that.
  • This Sunday is election day for the primary elections; pray people will still come to church and that no one will get hurt

I hope that´s some good info for ya…Love you all! Have a stellar week and keep up the good work in Gringolandia!

Love, Elder Call

[Editor’s Note: Why the sudden lack of pictures this past 30 days? Elder Spencer Call’s camera was infected with a virus that “fried it”. We’re working on getting him a new camera.]

Thad

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