It´s been a really great week here in good ole´ Santa Rita. I really enjoyed your letter from this week. Although I was bummed to hear that Mason broke his tooth. Did you take a picture? Did he look anything like Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber? Cause if so, he could make a mean Jim Carey for Halloween. I´m sorry, I´m probably not helping. I hope Mason is doing well.
This past week has been really great! I saw Elder Merrill a couple of times actually. We had our zone conference on Thursday and I met him there. We ate lunch next to each other and talked a little bit. He´s a great elder. Then we had a stake conference on Sunday also so I saw him there too.
Speaking of zone conference, it was so great! On Thursday we woke up nice and early to head on out to Ciudad Del Este for the conference. For me, I think it was the best zone conference yet. The spirit was super strong and I really felt like the Lord was instructing me personally and helping me to know what I can do better. There was a theme of "Me amas más que éstos?" I think in English it´s "Lovest thou me more than these?" We watched a talk that Elder Holland gave in the MTC from January where he talks about the experience of Peter and Jesus after Jesus had resurrected and came to the Apostles while they were fishing. Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved him. When Peter said "yes," Jesus said, "feed my sheep." Elder Holland talked about what it takes to serve a mission, the focus we must have, we must love the Lord more than the wordly things that we leave behind.
Elder Holland also talked about the importance of becoming converted ourselves first before hoping for others to be converted. He talked about how Preach My Gospel was brought about because there were many returned missionaries that were falling away from the church and it was designed to help missionaries become further converted themselves.
President Callan talked about the importance of experimenting a change of heart and ensuring that the message really converts us so that it can convert others. At the end of the conference, President Callan asked the missionaries what they would remember from the Conference. I mentioned that I would remember the importance of becoming converted ourselves so that we can convert others. President Callan then shared an experience from his mission while he was serving with a companion that hadn´t quite yet gained a testimony of the Atonement. This missionary worked hard to gain a testimony and one day while teaching a lesson, it was his turn to teach the Atonement. This missionary started to teach the Atonement and an awesome Spirit filled the room. In that moment, both the missionary that was lacking a testimony of the Atonement and the investigator they were teaching received witnesses from the Spirit of the reality of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. From that moment onward, this missionary loved teaching the Atonement and sharing of it with all that he could. When President Callan shared this experience, the Spirit was very strong. It helped me personally gain a stronger testimony of the Atonement and how it blesses us. I too felt the urge to share it with everyone that I could. All in all, it was a great zone conference.
Sunday we had a stake conference in Ciudad Del Este. Once again, we had the joy/hassle of getting the bus all set up and the members there. I was a little worried that not too many people would go because we had to leave at 7:45. But the members here are so great and we had a good attendance. At the stake conference was Elder Bradley Foster of the 2nd quorum of the 70. The theme of the conference was families. It really was so great. The talks were all very awesome. Izaías, Mirta, Rosa, and Gunter were all there and it was really great for them. They really enjoyed the messages.
Another awesome highlight from the stake conference was that Brother Ugarte received the Melchizedek Priesthood! He has been preparing for a while and had a final interview before the conference and all went well. He was ordained as an elder after, so we are all very excited here in Santa Rita.
Brother Ugarte and Wagner keep working hard to help out the other members and the missionaries here. Wagner went out with us on Friday night to teach a few lessons. We are very grateful for their help.
I really liked Dad´s comment when he said that I should always remember to take a moment to listen to the spirit. That is so true, and is great advice. Earlier this week, we were working really hard one day trying to find new investigators to teach. We had been talking with everyone, asking references, really working hard. But all day we were striking out and couldn´t get anything going. It was kind of a moment of frustration because I was thinking, "what more can we do, Lord? We´re trying everything." That´s when I finally got the lesson that I think the Lord was trying to teach me. In getting caught up in finding people and trying to work hard, I really hadn´t been seeking the guide of the Spirit. Finally towards the end of the day I was trying to think back to the impressions that I´d felt. So we went and clapped a house that I had felt like we should clap but later ignored. So the people come out, they were nice, but not the ones we needed to find. Then someone from the house to the left yells "Hey, you´re looking for me!" So we walked over and it was a person that we had contacted and had been looking for, but couldn´t find. So we taught him and the lesson went really great. It turns out he has to move soon though, kind of a bummer. But I feel like I learned the lesson I needed to learn, to confide more in the Spirit.
Anywho, I love you all lots and lots! I hope you´re all doing very well. I know that this church is true. I´m very grateful for the work here and the opportunity that it is to share the gospel every day. I hope that you all strive to follow the Spirit always. Thanks for being so great!