Monday, November 3, 2008

November 3, 2008 -- A Big Area and a Big Change of Lifestyle

I am doing well. I love my new area. It is HUGE! In our ward, there are two sets of missionaries (we live in the same house), but even though the ward is divided into two areas, mine is still gigantic. I thought I walked a lot in my last area, but it was nothing like this. We also use a lot of public transportation. In my last area, all the houses were connected, in one continuous city. In this area, it is still considered one city, but the different colonies are separated by a kilometre or two. The walks from colony to colony are beautiful. There is a small river we cross most days. We are teaching a family in a small little colony that takes a half hour of walking through nature to get through. The mountains are farther away, but I can see more of them. I love it. The only thing is, a lot of the beautiful areas are polluted with all sorts of litter. It makes me sad to see all the trash that people dump. But I still love the nature here.

I arrived in the area the day after my [new companion] Elder Tovanche and his previous companion baptized a family. It is amazing to see their spirit. When we come over, they treat us like kings and hang on every word we say, which makes me more appreciate my calling and increase my desire to magnify it. They truly have a testimony and desire to learn. Their lives have greatly been blessed by the gospel, and their lives will be a great blessing to other members of the church.

So the election is tomorrow. I have no idea how the polls are or anything and I probably won´t find out about Proposition 8 until you tell me (but I´m sure I´ll hear about the new President from someone.) I still haven´t gotten my ballot, so my vote won´t be counted, but I pray that [Proposition 8] passes.

Speaking of Proposition 8, Dad asked me about the convert in my last area who had overcome homosexual feelings. I asked my companion about it, and this is what he told me (note: names have been changed and you might not want to read this to all the kids.)

Elder Gonzalez and Elder Meyers had not had any success for weeks. No one seemed to be listening to their message. So they decided to have a special fast. During their fast, they were walking down a street on their way to check a referral. They noticed a woman standing at her gate, who started at them when they walked by. On their way back, she was still there and looked at them in the same weird way. They decided to talk to her.

When they first started teaching Paula, she was depressed and in bad emotional and mental shape. But as they continued teaching her, she began to change. She believed what they said and the gospel was bringing light into her life. As they taught, however, they became suspicious of her living situation, but when they taught the law of chastity, she didn´t say anything, and so they figured there was nothing wrong.

When the time came for the baptismal interview, Paula didn´t want to do it. She said she wasn´t worthy, but she wouldn´t tell the missionaries why. They explained that the interview was not a test, but to help her prepare for baptism and overcome any remaining obstacles she might have. Finally she agreed to do it.

She came out of the interview crying and asked to talk to Elder Gonzalez and Elder Meyers. She explained that she had confessed to the other missionary and felt much better for doing so. She told them that since they had helped her so much, she wanted them to know what she had gone through.

Paula was married at the normal age and had several children. For one reason or another, however, she ended up as a young single mom without the means to take care of her many children. While she was in this state, she met Angela, another young woman, who befriended and helped Paula. Eventually, they became good friends and moved into the same house to be able to save money. Paula knew that Angela was a lesbian, but Paula wasn´t. She thought it was gross.

After a while, however, Paula felt like she ought to show her gratitude to Angela for all her help and support, so she began to do her ¨favors.¨ At first, Paula didn´t enjoy it at all, but only did it ¨to help her friend.¨ Soon, however, they were living a very lesbain life and Paula began to enjoy it. They lived like that for 20 years.

After many years, Paula began to feel guilty for the way she was living. She knew it was wrong, but she didn´t know how to get out of it. She became extremely depressed.

That´s when the missionaries showed up. As they shared their message of love and hope, Paula believed and her life changed. Little by little, she gave up smoking, drinking and other sins. After her first baptismal interview, she prayed hard to have the courage to talk to Angela. She did. It was hard at first, and at times she slipped, but she was able to completely overcome her lesbian lifestyle.

For cases such as Paula´s, the mission president has to interview them prior to baptism. Paula was interviewed by President Taylor (the president at the time), and was declared to be ready for baptism. She was overjoyed.

When I met Paula, I would have never guessed how her life was before. She has an extremely strong testimony and shares the gospel with everyone she meets. She and Angela are still very close friends (in fact, with President Taylor´s permission, they continued living in the same house.) Angela is also changing, little by little. Her journey has been harder than Paula´s, because her tendencies were more ¨natural,¨ but she too is listening to the missionaries and her life is better because of it.

Wow, that took a lot longer than I expected. I love that story, though. But my time is up.

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