Tuesday I turned 21! I celebrated waking up at 4:25 am to make it to zone meeting on the other side of the mission. Elder Frutos and I had been preparing for a week but until Tuesday morning on the bus the pieces still weren´t fitting. About 30 minutes before getting there things finally clicked. We´d asked everyone to study chapter 9 in Jesus the Christ along with D &¨C 93--both talk about Christ´s development grace by grace until he received of a fulness. We talked about what exactly is a "fulness" and what our potential is as missionaries and as sons and daughters of God. Understanding the limitless potential of those we teach and within ourselves is one of the most powerful weapons we have in the field. It´s interesting to note that God prepared both Christ and Moses for their respective ministries by emphasizing their divine nature and potential (see Matthew 3:17 and Moses 1:3-4). Fittingly, our understanding of our potential is the first thing that Satan attacks--he did it with Christ (Matthew 4:3, 6), with Moses (1:12) and he does it with us. Then we talked about growing grace by grace in our potential as a zone and set progressive goals--this week every companionship is going to close out 20 contacts per day, next week new investigators, then baptismal dates, then people at church, then baptisms. We bore our testimonies and I felt the Spirit was so strong. I was amazed to see everything fitting together so perfectly just in the nick of time. We planned 2 role-plays: one in which the missionaries needed to use what was taught about our potential to help their investigators to feel capable of preparing for baptism within the next 2 weeks, and the other to help their investigators overcome problems with one of the 4 major commandments (word of wisdom, chastity, tithing, and the Sabbath day). What was incredible is that we received phone calls from 5 different companionships during that week telling us that they used what had been presented during the meeting with their investigators and that it worked really well. Two were baptized last Saturday :) It seriously was one of the most spiritual meetings I´ve particpated in for a long, long time. I got a pretty sweet surprise at the end of it too. Seeing that it´d be my last zone meeting ever, wo of the sisters in the zone called me up front and did an animated reading of Mosiah 2, comparing me to King Benjamin and thanking me for everything I´d done on the mission. I was super surprised and no doubt got pretty red by the end of it, but I was super grateful. President, who was in attendance, stood up afterwards and thanked me as well. I was kind of awestruck with it all. I´d been struggling to look for some way of knowing if God was approving these last, rather hard moments of my mission Monday morning, and Tuesday at the end of zone meeting I received a very emphatic answer. I spent a long time on my knees that night saying thank you. More still, after the closing hymn several missionaries in the zone had a room filled with balloons and cake waiting for me, seeing that someone (ehem Elder Frutos) spilled the beans that Tuesday was my birthday. They all made a card that is definitely going in my scrapbook when I get home. It seriously was on the most rewarding birthdays ever.
We continue to be blessed with small tender mercies in the area, but unfortunately our investigators continue to close off their hearts. Saturday morning we had 25 investigators confirmed for church. When nightime came along the number dwindled down to 12, but they were 12 absolute yes´s. Sunday not a single one showed up. I´ve seriously never seen anything like it! But as I told President in my weekly email, maybe one of the bigger miracles of my mission is that I´m managing to truly feel happy during the middle of it all. Don´t ask me how. There´s always an experience here or there to keep us going and keep us smiling. Tuesday night for instance--we went to visit a young member couple and I felt prompted to share Helaman 12:24. When I finished, Elton, the member, looked at me and said "wow, there´s a part of my patriarchal blessing that I never understood that I understand now because of that scripture you just read." It really does feel really good to minister, to be the Lord´s hands in the vineyard even during one of those moments when none of the trees seem to be bearing good fruit. Rogério, according to his wife, has calmed down a little bit but still doesn´t want to talk to us. But, we´ve managed to reactivate 3 people so far since arriving in the area! Lucia was at church last week for the first time since last October, and Erica for the first time 3 weeks ago since 5 years before that. She has a 12 year-old son named Gabriel that has a baptismal date set for the 17th.
I love you all! Thanks millions for all the birthday wishes. I got cards/letters from Grandma Julie, Sister Shell, mom and my family, the Savage´s and the Idiart´s. I´ll be responding shortly!