There is a member named Carmen who has been a member for of the Church for about twenty-five years and is now about sixty years old. She is really active and always wants to help, but her thirty year old daughter, Veronica, has been inactive for a while now.
So this week we've been working with Veronica, having short visits here and there, to help her come back to church. It was funny though because when we sat down to have our main lesson with her that was a little bit longer he mom was whispering to me suggestions of what to share with Veronica. She was saying things like, "Elder, drop the cane on her... something really strong." (the phrase "drop the cane" means something like "tell them how it is without restraint")
So we had a pretty good conversation with them both, but towards the end Veronica started trying to "find the line" or in other words, she wanted to know to what extent a person could do certain things and still be ok. So we talked about how repentance isn't true if a person has intentions to return to their old ways and that we can't just repent and sin and repent and sin. To make the point, I shared Revelations 3:15-16 which in Spanish is worded a little bit differently, but says, "I would that ye were hot or cold, but because thou art luke warm I will vomit thee from my mouth." She actually really liked that scripture and then decided that she would begin her repentance after all the Christmas parties. Well, that just wasn't a good enough goal, so I then shared Alma 34:32-36 which says that we can not procrastinate the day of our repentance.
Veronica didn't come to church yesterday, but she is starting to get back into the habit of reading and praying daily. In other words, progress.
So on Wednesday I received some papers regarding my travel plans that I need to fill out and send to the mission. For now, my scheduled release is planned for the 22 of April, which falls on a Tuesday. I'm pretty sure that date is going to change because I'll be leaving the mission field a week before then because on the Thursday before I have my exit interview with President Heyman and then the temple trip to Buenos Aires and I can't imagine that we will be in Buenos Aires for more than a day. I'm guessing that I will be home on Sunday or Monday, rather than Tuesday.
On Monday Omar and Martha were going to go in to do their blood analysis, but it was a federal holiday, so apparently the hospital was closed. So they said that on Tuesday morning they would go in to do it. Well on Wednesday afternoon, we went looking for them to see how things went and they were no where to be found; not in their house nor in the Martha's mom's house. It wasn't until the next day that we found Martha again and she told us what had happened.
It turns out that there had been an argument between them and thy had since separated; Omar going back to live with his mom. The argument was that Martha doesn't like it when they go to visit his mom because all of Omar's brothers smoke and drink and then encourage him to do the same. So Omar took it hard and basically walked away feeling like he was being told that he wasn't allowed to see his mom. Obviously other things occurred and the argument escalated until it had gone way beyond what was ever necessary, but that was how it started.
So later the next day when we finally found Omar, we came across a sad sight as we saw him sitting in a big circle with other people, smoking and drinking. He stepped away from the group to talk with us and of course the rest of the crowd tried to discourage him from talking to us, but we had a pretty serious conversation. We talked about what he is going to not only do about his baptism, but his whole life; if he really was content to just go back to drinking, smoking, and generally not doing anything productive or meaningful. He said that he wasn't sure about getting back together with Martha, but we told them that even if they don't get married that he still has an obligation to be better than the person he was in that moment; I told him, and he also knew it, that he looked physically different from before from just a few days of drinking and smoking. The question to make him think was this: are you really happier now with these "friends" than you were a week ago when you were reading the scriptures, praying, and spending time with your family?
He said that he might go to work in the mountains for three weeks and while he's there he will think and ponder about what he wants to do. We're just hoping that he will make good decisions; not just for the short term, but rather for the eternities.
Through all of this, Martha has become rather downcast and sad because of the events that transpired; she didn't even come to church yesterday. We've been trying to cheer her up and encouraging her to keep reading and praying, but she still needs more time. Some members are going to be passing by her to offer their friendship and help too.
Sunday went well though. We had a good group of less active members come back to church for the first time in a while that we've been visiting, so that was nice to see them there. We also got some pretty good activities planned for the coming weeks to help the members share the Gospel with their non-member friends and family.