Okay! This week was pretty full of stuff to do, things that happened, service rendered etc.
First of all, thanks for the birthday present! It came in the mail on Saturday. I was going to wait until my birthday to open it, but last night we were planning a lesson for one of our investigators, Antonio and how we can help him have a goal of a baptismal date. We decided that we would watch a specific Mormon message with him to help bring in the spirit and so we were about to call the Elders in our district to ask if they had the Mormon message DVDs but then I realized that my package might actually have them. So I opened it up. Thanks so much!!! They are already going to come in so handy. I am also so excited for the object lesson book!!! We have been doing a ton of family home evenings lately, so this will really help us a ton! I am so excited. Hna Mulliner just kept saying, "wow! That is such a good package!" You're the best.
Antonio is doing really well, by the way. Hermana Hansen and I had been teaching him for months and he didn't come to church for the whole time we were together and then he basically told us he wasn't going to be able to in December because he was working every Sunday for the holiday season. So we ended up dropping him for a month or so and then picking him back up in January and he has been coming to church every Sunday for a month straight now!! He is progressing so much! He just loves us too. He and his wife have pretty much decided we're part of the family now and they are already talking about how we should all come back for a camping trip after the mission because I guess they really love doing those often and he was talking about how he loves to play the guitar for those. He is really working on quitting smoking and he will hopefully get baptized soon. But we really want to set that date with him tonight to help give him the added inspiration to quit for good.
Some other random things that happened this week...
We finally decided to bless our apartment and it was really cool. The spirit was very strong afterward!
We are really learning how important visiting teaching is. Our area has about 50-60 families and probably almost half of them are less active, We also found out that according to the records, 0% of the members are doing visiting teaching. Either that is true or if there is visiting teaching being done, they are not recording it. But we can definitely feel it. The members always are getting onto us about how this person or that isn't coming to church but we have so many people to juggle and really our main purpose is the 3.5 million people in the mission boundaries who are not members. But we are basically also having to do the visiting teaching for the ward single-handedly. In other words, please do your visiting teaching! It really does matter. Most people just need an invitation and a friend and they'll come back and it really helps the missionaries a lot!!! (especially in Hispanic work where the majority are recent converts themselves and so they all feel like they depend on the missionaries)
Also, Hermana Yengle (the one with the son Ethan who was born super early) had a baby shower put on by the ward and so we got to go to that for her. Earlier in the week we also got to help one of the less active members work on a ton of little decorations for the baby shower which was really fun. And the baby shower turned out so great! Tons of the members showed up to support her and she was crying at one point because she didn't expect so many people to come and she just felt so loved.
Oh, and I have to tell you about this terrible family home evening that ended up happening this week. So with the young single adult branch we have a family home evening every Tuesday and each week it changes who is in charge. Hermana Mulliner and I took the missionary's turn in December, so the Elders told us that they would do their turn this past week. It felt like something that you'd see on a movie because it ended up so comically bad and they were like oblivious to it all. They thought everyone was thinking it was really cool but we were really all super worried. So the Elders decided to do a lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. They wanted to do an object lesson and they thought they were so brilliant that they came up with this one idea on their own. So they took this rod and said that we all need to have faith then they could turn it into gold. Then they took some red dye and rubbed it all over it and put it in a a container and poured bleach to get the red off. That was supposed to represent the Isaiah scripture on sins red turning white as snow and thus Repentance and Baptism. So far so good. Well they decided that it wasn't turning white fast enough so they poured more bleach and got it all over the table (we were so worried that it would ruin the nice wood table but luckily that didn't happen) but some of the bleach got onto their scriptures and so one of them just wiped the bleach off his scriputures with the back of his tie!!! (who does that!?!) Then they pulled these huge pliers out of their pocket and a blow torch out of their backpack and proceeded to burn the bar (the idea being to get the outer coating off). The fire was supposed to represent the holy ghost. They held it over the bleach container so that any chips that fall off can just go into the container. But they held it way too close and the container started burning. Then they acted like nothing happened it kept on burning the bar for like a minute straight. By then there were bleach fumes galore in that room and it smelled quite bad. But then they pulled out a water bottle because the last step is to pour water to get a gold colored coating (which is actually brass--not gold) and they poured the water over it into the little burnt container which then overfilled and poured even more onto the table. They were so proud of themselves that they had created "gold" and had such a great idea and they were like oblivious to us all. They thought our reaction was amazement not worry! Oh man! I wish that had been recorded! But I had to share that story because it was so crazy!!!
Anyway, I also wanted to share about my experience yesterday at church. The ward had managed to offend the elder who was playing piano and so he asked me if I'd take over playing for sacrament. As missionaries, we're not allowed to have instruments and we have 0 time to practice, so I literally had to go up there and then just play haha. oh what fun. Two of the songs were in the simplified hymnbook that I borrowed, but the sacrament one was not. It also happened to be in a key with 3 flats. Oh great, I was thinking! I decided that they would get what they got and I only played the top note. But it ended up being really funny. In the first few notes I was fumbling through to try to even get a melody and I accidentally ended up changing the key to something that was slightly higher but easier with only one sharp or flat. But then the key was off from the music. So I just had to kind of look at the music for how big the jumps were but then just kind of play by ear. it didn't turn out too badly haha! I am definitely not good at the piano and it was full of mistakes throughout all the pieces, but I'm all they have haha! I guess the good thing is I would usually get a hang of it, so by the 4th time through it wasn't too bad. The funny part, though, is that I'd be playing them and Hispanics don't know how to follow piano, so I'd have to periodically pause for like 2 full seconds for the congregation to catch up to me. and then really plunk out the melody so they could follow. It really is a unique and funny experience playing for them haha!
Okay, for a quick thought I've been thinking about this week. Sometimes we measure our success too much by looking inward or outward when we really should be looking upward. A lot of times there is a problem with people becoming offended because they feel like they're giving it their all and then someone comes up and says they're not doing good enough or something like that. Or you put too much stress on yourself trying to get yourself to measure up to what others are doing. That isn't how it should be. God sent us here to serve with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. That means that the amount someone can give or do is different for everyone. There will always be someone better than us in anything we do in life whether it be learning a language, or in your physical ablilities, or what grade you get at school. Someone in the world is always going to be better at us. But that shouldn't make us shrink away from developing our talents. When we look upward and really know that heaven has accepted our offering, no matter how big or small, then you know you have lived successfully.
Also, a thought that really has helped me: 'always do what you're afraid to do'. And 'any excuse, no matter how valid, always weakens the character.' We definitely see that in missionary work!
Have a great week and have the spirit with you always!!