This week has been relatively quiet; we're still looking for new people to teach and have been mostly opting to ask members for references rather than contacting because it tends to be more efficient. This, of course, has meant that we're teaching even more lessons with members, which is fine because the members here are great.
For example, we always love going over to Liu's house because she is the ultimate hostess. She loves to make us ginger and limoncillo tea and bring it out on a shiny silver platter with some dainty china teacups and a plate of tiny heart-shaped cookies. We love our tea times with Liu - it makes us feel refined in a country where most people... well, aren't. We mentioned to her one time that Americans love peanut butter and the next time we showed up she had a jar waiting for us (and its not cheap here). She even gives us a ride home from church each week.
Then there's our new ward mission leader named Elvis, who we always have a lot of fun with. He has such an enthusiasm for missionary work (if he wasn't in his 40s I think he'd be putting his papers in as soon as possible). He's a recent convert of 2 months, and the other day he told me a little about his experience of learning about the Gospel.
He said that over 20 years ago he had a very vivid dream. In the dream, he was an older man and he was standing at the foot of a tall, beautiful building that, to him, looked like a castle. As he craned his neck to look up the towering walls he was filled with an almost overwhelming sense of joy and a desire to go inside. He looked around him and saw that there was a long line of people waiting to enter, but for some reason, he knew that he was unable to join them. He took one last glance at the lofty towers and vowed that he would go inside. The dream made such an impression on him that it stuck with him for over two decades until the time that he began taking the missionary discussions. One lesson, the sisters showed him a photo of the Salt Lake Temple and immediately he recognized it as the building from his dream. "Now," he said reverently, "I am finally worthy to go inside."
Another member with an amazing story is Hno. De Leon. He learned about the church in his late 40s and immediately had a desire to read the Book of Mormon... however, he had never learned to read. So, the elders who were teaching him helped him memorize several scriptures and wrote them down on a sheet of paper. For hours and hours, he pored over those scriptures, reciting them aloud while studying the words on the page. With time, he learned each of the letter and their respective sounds and eventually began reading the Book of Mormon. It was slow at first, but by the time he finished he could pick up any book and understand it perfectly. Now, over 20 years later, he has read the Book of Mormon many times and considers it the key to his conversion (and also his literacy).
And finally, there's Presidente Ramirez who has lofty goals and a grand vision for La Venta. He's constantly writing up, handing out, and hanging up inspiring and motivational posters, including 'La Venta's Standard of Liberty,' which is a massive 6x8 foot epistle to the backdrop of Christ's Second Coming, hanging up just inside the chapel doors - it makes quite an impression as you walk in. He's also constantly devising creative strategies to invite new people to learn about the Gospel and new programs for member capacitation and retention. Sometimes I think that his enthusiasm can outweigh his logistical practicality, but I do think that he is one of the main reasons why La Venta is flourishing and growing so quickly. He knows how to get people excited about the Gospel and sharing it with others, and he has an undiluted hope that this little branch has a bright and consequential future ahead of it - and from what I've seen, I'd say he's probably right.
Hasta la próxima,
Hermana Kaitlin Olsen
|Baking cookies with a member|
|Painting a house|
|It is greener in the Capital|