Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008 -- Las Leccionotas en el Ranchito (The Big Lessons in the Little Ranch)

My Thanksgiving was great . . . . We worked just like it was any other day, but my companion and I bought two little pies to celebrate.

This Thursday I will complete six months as a missionary. It is really hard for me to believe. It has gone by, as they say, de volada, that is, really fast. All the clichés as to how fast time can fly apply to how I feel. Six months is a quarter of my mission. Today we had a special conference in the morning (we have one the last Monday before transfers every transfer.) In it, all of the "heroes," or departing missionaries bore their testimonies. It made me think of how I want to be when that time comes and I realized that I have so much to change, and so much work to do. I don't want to waste a single minute of the 18 months of the Lord's time that I have left. Once again, I am recommitted to giving 100%, everyday.

Everything here in Villa Juarez is going wonderfully well, especially in the ranchito. Roberto Carlos and Miriam are incredible missionaries. We are teaching many people because of them, including nearly 20 members of their extended family. Our lessons with the Montoya family (the extended family of Roberto Carlos) are always quite interesting. Usually, there is at least 10 people there, but the mix varies. Doña Carmen, the less active matriarch of the family is usually a constant, as is Miriam, the recent convert. Besides that, there are investigators at various levels of progress, and of various ages. Almost every time we go, there is a new member of the family whom we haven't taught before. Sometimes Sonia, one of Roberto Carlos' sisters comes down from Matamoros. She and her husband were baptized a little over a year ago and were just recently sealed. Another Sister, Nena, is an anti-Mormon who likes to express her opinion (but refuses to read any of our pamphlets or books, preferring to believe what she finds on the Interenet.) Whenever we go to teach one person in particular, the others join in, so we always end up teaching everyone all at once. I'm learning a lot about teaching at several levels at once. Our first baptism from that family will hopefully be this Sunday (if he conquers his drinking problem). If not this Sunday, it won´t be too far in the future.

I have a vision of the Montoya family in a few years, gathered for a sort of Grand Family Home Evening, like we used to have when everyone [on Dad's side of the family] lived in California. Everyone will be faithful, active members, united to reminisce, enjoy the company of loved ones, and to strengthen each other. They will be raising children in the gospel and will be serving in various callings. I am working for that vision.

It's been a while since I wrote a cultural moment. There is a phenomenon that, from what I understand is unique to Monterrey and its suburbs. It is the phenomenon of the lunche (pronounced lunch-eh). Instead of sending their children to school with their lunches, the Moms around here flock to the school at break time in order to personally deliver snacks and treats to their children. They are not allowed to go in, so they surround the fences and hand their children the goodies. It’s a little thing, but it makes me happy to see that there are lots of mothers who take good care of their children, because I see a lot of the opposite every day. It is also a great time to find young families to teach, but I've learned to contact those walking away from the school, not towards it, because when they are bringing the lunche they don't have time to talk.

. . . [T]his week I have been reading in the war chapters of the Book of Mormon. (I'm convinced that it could become the best movie ever made if Peter Jackson converted to the church and set his talents to it.) There are many jewels to be found in these chapters. This time, I was especially impressed by the Stripling Warriors. There is a lot to learn from their example. They had much power in fighting, despite their lack of experience. This power came from lots of things, but most especially their exact obedience. As a missionary, there are lots of rules and many of them seem insignificant, but I really notice the power that I get from obeying the Lord.

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