This week we had a lot of focus on two young men, Marcos Ledesma and Jonatan Aguirre, as the two of them prepared for their baptism.
On Monday we had a visit with Marcos about tithing. Also there was his grandma, Angela, who is, in Marcos' words, "very catholic." So we were teaching him about tithing (the blessings we receive, what the money is used for and how to pay it) when out of nowhere his grandma interrupts and says, "I don't agree with the way your church runs its tithing." She told us that it wasn't right that we could force someone to pay ten percent of their income to the Church. Obviously she didn't understand, especially when she said, "they don't exhort you to do anything in my church; if you have an extra coin then you can donate it."
We didn't worry about arguing with her on the matter; she didn't agree with the standards of the Lord and that's all there was to it. But I was thinking more about tithing afterwards and thought of the following:
- Tithing is a sacrifice. In ancient times the Lord required sacrifices from His people in the form of animals and now he asks us to give up a part of our income. If we only pay a donation whenever there is a little extra to go around then it isn't a sacrifice and we would be exactly the same as the scribes and the Pharisees who only gave what was extra.
- The windows of heaven are opened unto us. Where is the closest place to heaven on earth? The temple. And the only way that we can get into the temple is to pay a full and honest tithe. By going to the temple are we not receiving a blessing so great that there shall not be room enough to receive it?
I had thought of a few more points, but for now I can't remember them.
Later with Marcos, we were able to watch the movie about President Monson's life called "On the Lord's Errand." It was pretty good and Marcos actually liked it more than I thought he would; which is really good because I thought that he was just going to be bored, but President Monson tells some good stories.
Things have been interesting with Carina and Daniel this week. The two of them are currently quitting smoking, and in Daniel's case, quitting drinking as well. But they've been having to make some changes and it hasn't been easy. We haven't really seen too much of Daniel this week and we're trying to help them get ready to be baptized on the twelfth of April. I think that Carina is getting a little discouraged, or maybe just annoyed, because she was supposed to get baptized this last Saturday, but couldn't because she is still smoking and so we had to change her baptismal date to the fifth, but then they said that we couldn't baptize on the fifth because of general conference. So once again we've changed her date to be for the twelfth of April. Regardless of the date changes, she still hasn't conquered smoking.
So we've been focusing lately on setting goals and achieving them. We've talked a bit more extensively with them about keeping the Sabbath day holy and the importance of their own personal preparation for baptism.
So Saturday was kind of a busy day for us because we had the baptism in Saenz Peña and then immediately afterwards we had a branch counsel meeting (which I go to and then the other Elders rotate around on who accompanies me).
The baptisms went really well. Once again we had a small travel bus to take everyone to the baptism and get to the church. We had a good group that went; about twenty two people just from our investigators and some of the investigators of the other companionship.
First I baptized Jonatan and then Elder Valverde baptized Marcos (who he has been teaching for five months now). It was really funny because one of Marcos' friends, Joel, came with him to the baptism and while we were there, Joel was getting phone numbers from the young women in the branch in Saenz Peña. I guess whatever it takes to get his friend coming to church with him is alright with me.
The counsel meeting was pretty disappointing though. The leaders from the branch always commit themselves to coming out to Quitilipi to help us run things and work with the members and then they always put up some sort of excuse not to come. The district president said that he wouldn't be able to make because he needed to stay in Saenz Peña to set apart the new seminary teacher, as if he was going to do it during the church meetings and couldn't just wait until church got out, and then the first counselor to the branch president said that he couldn't make it because he doesn't have his license and therefore can't drive on the highways. I was at the point of sharing this scripture with them, but didn't,
"And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day." Jacob
If in the next meeting they still have the same attitude then I won't let them continue in their slothful thinking; we're trying to get everything put in order here and the people who should care the most are completely oblivious to the situation and don't try to become involved.
After the meeting, there wasn't a bus back to Quitilipi until ten thirty, so Elder Warth and I didn't get back to our apartments until eleven thirty and finally got to bed at midnight.
Jonatan is doing super well though. We're going to work with him to get the Priesthood so that he can get some baptisms under his belt here pretty soon. He really wants to participate more in the Church and even offered to come and help clean the building whenever we needed help.
So the building that we are using for the church meetings is being rented to us by a man named Sergio and his mom lives on the property next to the building. Her names is Justina. So on Saturday, she said that she wanted to come to see how it was for the first day and she actually came to the meeting, she just got there at the very end right as the closing prayer was being said. So we went to her house later on Sunday night and talked to her about the restoration of the Gospel. She really liked what we had to share with her, but was a little bit hesitant to accept a baptismal date. She felt confident about what we shared though and has agreed to pray about what we shared with her.
It was really funny when we first sat down with her because she started telling us about her life and said that she lives alone and has nothing to do and sometime feels a little lonely (that wasn't the funny part) and then said that she wants something to fill her time like visiting people, visiting a sick person, doing some service, or getting involved in an activity and I thought, "we need to get her intoRelief Society!"