Wow! This week has been busy. It seems like every week is busier than the last. But that’s just fine—I love what I do. One of the hardest things about working in the office is having to balance my time between all the office work and the work in our [proselyting] area. But as President Mendoza has taught us, this experience will be of great value when we are fathers, employees, maybe students, and leaders in our wards.
In her letter, Mom mentioned that last Sunday’s sacrament meeting in the Redlands 5th ward was a spiritual feast, largely due to the testimonies of two recent converts. It was the same here in Barrio Victoria. First, Carlos Angiano, the recently re-activated father of Melisa and Alejandra bore his testimony. (He is the one who bore his testimony on tithing last month.) This time he bore a powerful and sincere testimony about fasting, and invited his daughters to fast as well.
Next, Ranulfo Villegas got up. He had written out his testimony beforehand, but didn’t read from his notes. He looked and sounded like a stake president as he talked about his conversion story, shared his testimony, and talked about how much the world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. I couldn’t stop smiling as I listened to him. The stake president was visiting our ward that day, and was also amazed by Ranulfo’s testimony.
I love seeing recent converts, or recently re-activated members show their testimony through their actions. Getting up to speak in front of a group of people is not easy, and shows that they really believe what they say. Paying tithing, I think, is one of the greatest indicators of testimony. Living the law of chastity or the Word of Wisdom have blessings that are logical, like happy families and health, but paying tithing is truly an act of faith. Ranulfo has already paid his tithing twice.
Monday was the annual mission activity in the city. It was as good as the [activity at the] border [last week]. Like I said, it is wonderful to play sports, enjoy and share talents, and see our old companions and missionary friends. (This time I got up my courage and played the piano and sang in the talent show.) I think those things -- that is, exercise, wholesome entertainment, and friendship -- are very important. The special zone conference was great as well.
In the activity in the border [last week], the games and the talent show took longer than we had planned, which cut into our zone conference time. What we had planned to do in 2.5 hours, we had to do in half an hour. I had carefully planned a training to last half an hour and was excited to give it, but when the time came, President Mendoza told me I had five minutes.
I’ve learned the importance of being exactly obedient and following the time allotted, but it is hard for me to talk less than planned. President Mendoza has taught me that it doesn’t matter if I still have important things to say when my allotted time is up, I need to be obedient and respect the time of President Mendoza, or whoever is presiding. So that is what I did.
This time [in the city], however, everything went according to schedule and I had half an hour. It went well. I have learned a lot about teaching during my time as a missionary. One is that I always learn more than those I teach. Another is that even if I have the ability to give an interesting speech impromptu, it is always better to prepare and plan beforehand. I love teaching in all its forms, and my desires to be a teacher have increased in the mission field (although I’m still haven’t chosen between Institute and Kindergarten.)
Tuesday was spent almost 100% in the offices. We had to catch up on the weekly duties we weren’t able to do on Monday (like sending the key indicator report to Salt Lake) as well as prepare for the missionaries who would be coming to stay in the offices that night and get everything ready for the zone leader council the next day.
Wednesday was wonderful. We started with a trip to the temple. It was great. Thanks to some tips from President Mendoza, I learned many things that I hadn’t seen before. I learned the importance of receiving and following instructions, as well as reporting, with exactness. I also learned that Satan does everything he can to put himself between us and heaven, literally and figuratively. It is amazing how you can learn something new every time you go to the temple.
After the temple, we had a zone leader council. It has been a few months since we have had a full zone leader council in the mission, and this was the first time that I have attended as an Assistant. It went really well. I love those meetings. Imagine, spending ten hours with President Mendoza and 24 of the best missionaries in the mission, talking about how to improve and be more like the Savior wants us to be.
As I left the zone meeting, I thought of two scriptures that I have studied recently. One is Jacob 6:7-8 which says, “Behold, after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit…? Will ye reject these words… and deny the good word of Christ…and quench the Holy Spirit and make a mock of the great plan of redemption?”
I had truly been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, from 7:00 AM to 9:30 P.M. To leave such a meeting and return to how I was before is to reject the prophets, the Lord, and the Holy Ghost. I also thought about the people described in Alma 1:26, who, after being nurtured by the good word of God, “returned again diligently unto their labors.”
Yesterday, after our normal morning schedule, we had our weekly planning session, and were able to spend the afternoon working in the area. It was great! Our bishop, Bishop Xiqui (pronounced she-kee), is worried because several families have moved out of our ward and the sacrament [meeting] attendance is very low, so my companion and I are focusing more on reactivation. Yesterday we had four lessons with less active families. I enjoy teaching less-actives and reminding them of what they once knew and felt and inviting them to have it again. As President Laney in Salt Lake once said, bringing someone to Christ or returning them to Christ is the same thing, and the joy is the same.