Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Notes from Sam -- 4 March 2009

Dear family,

Sorry for the short letter last week! The library computers went down. : ( I’ve got lots to report now!

Lisa and Christian Bailey came to church again, and so did Christian’s sister Cara! They are great. It turns out that one of the Primary kids is in Christian’s class at school. Apparently after attending church and making this connection, Christian brought his copy of the Book of Mormon to school so he could discuss it with Josh. : ) Last night we taught Lisa with the couple who has kind of adopted them (gives them a lift to church, etc.) and she was telling us that she doesn’t think she ever would have come to church in the first place if not for Christian’s desire to. But now she is committed as well. It’s great how families support each other in learning the gospel. Elder Garcia was telling me how he’d once thought teaching families must be a lot more difficult than individuals, because you have to resolve a lot more concerns (a different one for each person), but it doesn’t work that way at all – family members help each other and resolve each other’s concerns! No wonder Preach My Gospel tells us to strive to find and teach families.

The lesson with Lisa last night was on chastity, which is the big topic for her (since she and Alan aren’t married yet). But it went a lot better than we’d hoped. Lisa has a testimony of chastity already – her parents had a great marriage and she wants her kids to have the same kind of happy family life – so she just has to actually get married, and she was willing to commit to do it. She should have a marriage date by the end of the week. Lisa and Christian’s baptismal date is still March 28. It’s kind of amazing how fast people’s lives can change when they are willing to keep commitments.

We also saw Gisela again this week. I don’t think I’ve ever taught a second lesson to a more excited investigator! She’d been reading the Book of Mormon and had felt every time she read it that it was true. She had us go over her reading (3 Nephi 11) with her and help her understand everything that was in the verses. When we got to the part about Christ conferring authority to baptize, she asked us why baptism is so important. We flipped to verse 38 in the same chapter, which explains pretty clearly that you cannot inherit the kingdom of God without being baptized. As Gisela understood that, she asked us if she could be baptized and when. When our fellowshipper explained that we had to teach her several lessons before she would be ready, she said, “Well, start teaching me now, then!” That’s how everyone should feel about baptism, but it’s still kind of a wonderful surprise to find someone who actually does. She’s been difficult to contact and we have yet to see her again, but hopefully we can teach her again this week and get her a baptismal date.

I didn’t have time to mention it last week, but this week is transfers! As you can probably tell from the above, Elder Garcia and I will be staying together. We were both pretty surprised – it’s not too common for companions to stay together more than two transfers – but also excited. I still have a lot I can learn from Elder Garcia, and we make a good team. Not only are we staying, both our district leaders are also staying, so the “leadership team” for the zone is the same as last transfer. That is really great because it means we can build really directly on what happened last transfer. We’ve already identified specific things we want to work on and will be planning everything out in district leaders’ council on Saturday.

Other changes from transfers: our zone is losing some experienced missionaries and getting some younger ones instead (so I’m now the “oldest” missionary in the zone – yikes!). We’re excited about that – young missionaries tend to have a lot of fire. We’re also getting a companionship of three sisters in the zone to replace one of our sets of elders, which means 7 of the 19 missionaries in our two districts are sisters. Sisters tend to be really great missionaries, and we’re excited to see what happens.

As a side-note, preparation day is moving from Wednesday to Monday starting next week, although in transfer week preparation day will still always be a Wednesday. So you’ll be getting my emails on Mondays most weeks now.

Dad, Elder Garcia was really interested in your trip to Nepal and the pictures you sent. He taught and baptized a man in his last area named Sarasati Barchai. He’s a political refugee from Bhutan, where he apparently headed a heavily-persecuted opposition party, and he lived in Nepal for a while before coming to England and finding the gospel. Maybe your recent converts know of him.

Last night Elder Garcia dreamed that Elder Ballard and Elder Maxwell came teaching with us for a whole day. Elder Ballard and I really clicked and taught with unity. Elder Garcia mentioned to Elder Maxwell that he had thought Elder Maxwell was dead, and Elder Maxwell explained that it the Church had just told people that and that he’d actually just been released for medical reasons. A true missionary dream . . .

One more great experience from this week to finish off. From Monday to Tuesday we went on exchange with a companionship in our zone that has been struggling a lot. The missionary I went with has been having a really hard time, having doubts about his testimony and feeling like he’s wasting his time. In particular, he’s been feeling really overwhelmed by an assignment he’s been given this next transfer to be the senior companion to a fairly young missionary. It was good to talk to him as we worked and give him some words and ideas of encouragement. The next morning, this elder had a really spiritual experience as he read Ether 12 during his personal study, and as he told me about it in companion study the Spirit helped him open up and share the depth of his concerns. I felt a lot of love for him, and was able to point out to him that he did have a testimony and testify that he would be able to succeed this transfer. We agreed on a couple of things he would do in the next couple of weeks to meet his challenges. It was a great experience, and it brought me really close to this good elder. As we closed our companion study, he pulled out his address book, and said, “Elder Pimentel, I want to keep in touch with you.” : ) Sometimes I think the greatest blessings of my mission have come not from teaching and serving investigators but from teaching and serving other missionaries.

The Church is true!

Elder Pimentel

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