Monday, December 10, 2012

Running Naked through the streets

Querido familia,                        10 December 2012

I think I've spent a fair amount of time talking about David Leiva by this point and his story is about to come to a close. I think I mentioned before that he told his neighbor, who is a member, to tell us that he doesn't believe in Joseph Smith and that he no longer wants us to come by. Well, we spent all week trying to find him and the only contact we had with him was to leave a note outside his tent that said, "David, why weren't you in church last week? We missed you." Apparently that brief and simple note hit him quite hard. On Friday morning, Sister Melbe Nuñez called us to tell us that, "David came by and told me that I need to tell you that he has been praying and he knows that this is the path the Lord has laid out for him and the he is going to be baptized."

So we went to the house of David's father to see if he was there before moving on to his tent. He was there in the backyard, sitting in a circle with his brothers, sister, and grandma. When he turned and saw us standing there, he got a smile and waved for us to come back, We we got back there, he gave us the usual cool guy hand shake that we normally exchange and then a hug (which is a big deal for their culture). He started telling us his story about how he has been avoiding us at the beginning of the week, but then started praying after he saw our note. He did a whole a lot of praying and from what he described it sounds like he had finally experienced forgiveness from his Heavenly Father and received a powerful witness from the Holy Ghost of what it is he needs to do. So we're listening to his incredible story of his own personal conversion to the Gospel and then he asks if he can get baptized in the coming Saturday. Then his brother said something: "You're already baptized like the rest of us." To which David said, "Yeah, but I was only thirteen and didn't know anything, so it didn't count." Well, that's when we have to explain to David that you´re only baptized once, but the feelings that he experienced were as good as a baptism because he was baptized by fire and with the Holy Ghost.

So David isn't going to be baptized because he is already a member, but being a member of the church isn't enough; you have to be a follower of Christ, Now that he has had these experience. hopefully he will follow with more exactness. However, his youngest brother is not a member and he said that he would like to be baptized. Whether he said it just because he was surrounded by his family who are all members or because he really does, it can't  hurt to have the example of David and his recent conversion as well as some positive peer pressure from his family. So we're going to start working with him with David as our assistant teacher and support.

Juan Pablo is going to get baptized this coming Saturday though. We've been working really well with him and showing him that the church isn't just something we do on Sunday, but it's a lifestyle. He has been spending a lot of time with the family of Sister Nuñez and all her kids (they make up about half of the youth in the branch). His younger brothers are really progressing well too with the lessons, even though we don't have the opportunity to teach them much. The only problem we have with them is that they don't come to church, mostly because they don't have a way to get there unless they go with their brother, Juan (and Jaun Pablo doesn't want his little brothers to tag along with him). We were talking to them and the Tortarolo family (the kids of Sister Nuñez are all Tortarolo) and invited them to come to the Christmas devotional and the two younger brothers of JuanP, Hernan and Rodrigo, both immediately asked their mom, who was also there, if they could go too. Juan looked at his mom and said, "I don't want them to come." So I guess it's good that Juan feels like the church is something that he is part of, but he needs to share it too.

Belen and Ezekiel Quintana are going to be baptized on the twenty-second still. We've been teaching them and they love having us over, but similar to Juan Pablo, they don't want to 'share us' with their friends who live next door. We'll encourage them to invite them to come to church with them, but we'll see what happens. They're kind of crazy to teach without their parents their, they are ten and twelve after all, but they love to learn and pray. Omar, their father, is still having troubles becoming active again and it is severely effecting the progress of his wife. Hopefully when they see how much their kids love the church they will become a part of it too.

There is one member in the ward who has caused a bit of trouble for the church this week though. It's not really his fault though in a way. He has some Mantle conditions that require some medication, some pretty powerful medication. Well, one day he didn't take his pills and ended up running naked through the streets. When he was picked up, the radio interviewed him, while he was still in his delusional state, and he told them that the Mormons are crazy and that they make you do crazy things to be a part of their church. So, for the next four days we heard about this event from various people. But it seems to be dying down pretty calmly, so we'll see what happens.

On Sunday, we had a District Conference with two members from the Seventy, Elder Ávila and Elder di Giovanni (who is now acting as our Mission President while President Heyman is in the States). After the meeting, Elder Clark and I were invited to stand in with Elder di Giovanni to set apart a member in our branch, David Simonini, as an Elder and give him the Melchizedek Priesthood.

os amo,
Elder Burt

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