I'm pretty sure that last week I talked about the problems that we are having with our computer and the programs of the Church. Well we've spent considerable time in continuing the work of our devices, but we haven't seen success in our endeavors; we see small steps of progress, but then we have to take a few steps back every now and again. We discovered that the cause of the problem was the people who brought us the new computer that we have and that they hadn't done the installations correctly and gave us an old, outdated version of the program which made it impossible for our computer to hook up with the systems in Salt Lake. It's really frustrating when other people don't do their job well.
I haven't mentioned them, I don't think, but we've been teaching a family where the mom has been a member for twenty-years, she was baptized when she was eight, and the husband and kids are not members. The mom, Cristina, got married to her husband, Gustavo, who isn't a member and I guess that years ago he decided that they weren't going to participate in the Church. Well now we've been teaching them and Cristina came back to Church this last Sunday accompanied by their two sons Nahuel, who is twelve, and Jonatan, who is going to turn nine on the twenty-second. Gustavo didn't come, but we'll be working with him.
We've mostly been focused on teaching them the restored truths of the Gospel like modern prophets, the prophet Joseph, the Book of Mormon, and the fact that the true and living Church of Christ is on the earth. By doing this, we helping Nahuel and Jonatan to learn the truths that build the foundation of the Church while at the same time reminding Cristina about the testimony that she already has.
So things have been going well with them. The only thing that could possibly be a problem is that Cristina isn't sure if her husband will want their kids to be baptized. they were showing us some old pictures and there was one of one of the boys being baptized as a baby and being held by the priest; he was crying quite a bit in the picture. I told Elder Diaz that I would cry too if I had to participate in such apostasy against my will. But their dad is really nice and has never done anything remotely offensive or unfriendly toward us, so we don't really see any problems.
Martha and Omar on the other hand are not progressing and are actually moving backwards. We read in the Book of Mormon that those who know the truth and then retreat from it become more hard hearted and less receptive to the truth than before. So that's worrying for us because we're seeing that happen with them.
We talked to Omar and they've decided to get back together, but they went right back to where they were before we started teaching them. They're living together and don't really have plans to get married and they're no longer reading nor are they praying and going to church. We very frankly talked to Omar about the situation and explained how they will always have problems and trials and difficulties if they don't change their ways; we explained how the problems that they experienced in their relationship are a result of their disobedience towards the law of chastity and continued disobedience will only continue the pattern of fight, break up, turn to alcohol, get back together, and continue to be irritated and without work.
It's hard to watch their downfall in such a drastic way because they had already worked so hard to abandon all of those things that they carried before. But we can't help them anymore than they are willing to help themselves, and even more they can't receive divine aid in their situation because the Lord has said, "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise."
We've also talked with the district president and he said that he wants us to be working even more on finding the new branch president and that when President Heyman sees that we have a local leader then he will send a companionship of sister missionaries to assist us in the work.
We've been training the other leaders of the branch as well as the members in general as to how we can help the less active members of the branch to feel welcome and have desires to come back. This last Sunday we talked a lot about the Savior's example in how He talked to the people and helped them to understand what they needed to do. We shared examples of His life from two extremes: the cleansing of the temple, and the women taken in adultery. In both cases, the Savior acted exactly in the necessary way to make the situation better, not worse. He did not tolerate the sins of the people, but he never withheld His love. One of the key scriptures that we shared with this one:
My final comment about working towards finding the new branch president and putting forth a real effort was this, "It's not just the salvation of them whom we seek, but rather it's our own personal salvation as well."
Later that same day, many of the sisters went out to go visit those brothers who had not been participating in the Church and they had some really good experiences.
Thursday was also an interesting day for us because we were talking about the branch, the leadership, and the future progress of the members, which caused us to start to think about changing some things around in the leadership. We started by writing down where everyone was in their callings and then we thoughtfully rewrote the list to the way we think that it ought to be. So we prayed about it and ended up changing all organizations in the branch except for the relief society presidency and the teachers in Sunday school for the adults.
So between Thursday and Sunday we went around talking the the members who would be released and set apart. The changes will allow us to see more growth and progress in both the members as individuals as well as in the branch itself.
Sunday afternoon, as we continued to call people to their new callings (for those that we couldn't talk to before Sunday) we met with Alejandra Machado, who was to be called as the first counselor in the Primary presidency, and her boyfriend Paulo. Paulo is not a member, but has a knowledge of the scriptures according to the teachings that he has received. I say "according to the teachings that he has received" because he is confused on some things and thinks that any other book besides the Bible is false.
We actually had a really great conversation with him; we never argued with him about anything, but rather testified about the truthfulness of these things and then told him that if he would pray then he too could know the truth for himself. He also had a lot of questions about the Garden of Eden and the plan that God has for his children. So we were able to help him understand a lot of things that he didn't know before. It was kind of funny because all the answers to his questions came from the Book of Mormon, the very book that he initially didn't want to read.
Regarding that, there was a time a while back when someone told us that their pastor didn't his congregation to read the Book of Mormon because anyone who does joins the Mormon church (as if it was some sort of black magic).