So, last week on the bus ride, we had to leave last minute because the road we usually take fell down the valley. Made us feel very secure on the bus ride. We saw a bridge that fell down too. So South America. My companion brought apples for the ride, but forgot to wash them. We were very hungry and not even close to a store. I, against my better judgement, at one of them, knowing that it was probably covered in not good things. I was right, something I learned about 3 hours later. That was a hard bus ride. I leveled up on bladder control. But that was uncomfortable. Lesson learned, clean your apples.
Also, tomorrow we have to go back to Quito for a zone conference, woof. We'll have two days to work in our sector before Sunday comes, which makes seeing progress with people almost impossible. But, that's how it goes sometimes.
All that they told us about the mission division is that on June 15th, we will know which mission we belong to. President Ghent said that that is the most that he knows at this point. So, next Monday, I'll know which mission I will be going to. I guess the new president, President Richardson, lived here in Quito forever, which is cool. He is coming with his wife, a son that leaves in August for his mission, and a 13 year old daughter. That's all that I can tell you about the division for now.
These weeks have been pretty hard. I've been a little discouraged this last week, especially since we had so little time to actually work. A vacation seems like it would be great as a missionary, but it's really not. All we want to do is work, we don't really know what to do if we aren't working. So the weeks when we miss a few days snail by. So, that got me a little sad this last week. But I'll be okay. This week, we won't work much either, so pray that we'll be able to get a lot done with the little time that we have.
Our branch is at war. It gets worse every week. We are running out of things to do. I'm the secretary in the branch, so when we have meetings, I try to keep as close to the agenda as possible, and it still gets out of hand. Oh, branches. "It's like in Lost when they meet the others," says Dwight Schrute. But seriously, it's like in Lost when they met the others. It's dangerous, and both sides think that they are the good guys and the other side is the bad side. Luckily, no one has been kidnapped, killed, tortured, or stranded on a mysterious island, otherwise we would have a problem exactly like in Lost. It's like Jack says, too, "if we don't live together, we're going to die alone." Wise words Jack. It's pretty cool how things from a TV show can have such meaning in a small branch of the church in a jungle. I guess my dream came true! I'm living Lost! Who trusts me enough to do a surgery on their spine? Amber?
I had a cool dream this last week that I'd like to share with you. For the first part, it will sound ridiculous, but I promise that it has a point. We've been praying and fasting a lot to figure out what else we can do that we aren't already doing to help the branch progress. We've brainstormed a lot of ideas, and they just aren't working. We were getting impatient and wanting to see more immediate results. We wanted the members to be stronger, more faithful, and we wanted faster progress from the investigators, and we weren't being patient. In comes my dream. Stay with me, I'm not crazy.
So, I'm Batman (obviously). I was fighting a bad guy, and found giant babies. Let me explain that better. They were the babies of giants. So, little babies that would one day be giants. And, for some reason, I wanted them to grow up to be giants very quickly. No idea why, I'm not very experienced with the care of little giant babies. So, I had a machine that was designed to make them grow up faster. After a few hours of using the machine, they babies still weren't giants, and I was very frustrated. Then, an old guy who I think was supposed to be Alfred, came up to me and said, "Look, you can't grow giants quickly. They need to grow inch by inch, then one day, you'll have big, strong giants." And then I woke up.
I know what you're thinking. Elder Thomas, you live close to Columbia and someone clearly drugged you. That is a bizarre dream. I respectfully disagree. I think that this was a very needed lesson from me. We are trying to grow "spiritual giants" too quickly here. We are wanting a pace that we demand, which isn't the right one. We want fast progress, when really that won't help the branch at all. Spiritual giants are needed, very needed, here. But, they will not come quickly. Spiritual giants must grow little by little, and in a few years, you'll have the biggest and the strongest giants at your disposal. So, I learned that I need to be more patient. All the people here are little babies, so to speak, with a lot to learn as they are all new to the Gospel. With patience and the right kind of care, they can all grow tall. I'm not sure if I am here to help the branch grow by finding new members, or if I am merely here to help strengthen what we already have. Whatever it is, I'll do my best to help these little baby giants grow tall.
Temples are great. Go to them.
Money is not that great. Give it to the General Missionary Fund.
Really not too many things are happening right now, which is a little sad, but it more means that there is a chance to improve. I was talking to President Ghent the other week, and we were talking about how every problem has a solution. You start with the question, write what you know, then try to solve it. If your way doesn't work, you start from the beginning, adding what didn't work to the list of the things you know, then just keep going. With work, help from peers and teachers, and innovation, you'll find the solution to every problem. There are a lot of problems here, and we're just struggling to find the solutions. We'll get there one day, and then we'll have a doctorate degree.
I studied two talks this last week, by Elder Bednar and by Elder Maxwell about how we need to not offend people and how we need to choose to not be offended. Great talks, look them up. We gave them to the branch leaders to read, we'll see how it goes. I really like Elder Bednar's approach to visiting offended people. He basically says, "You're going to risk your salvation because someone was mean to you one time? Get off your couch, stop being offended, and come to church." Of course, he said it much nicer than that, but that was his point. 10 points to Elder Bednar! Elder Maxwell gives few ideas on how to reactivate the less active and offended. I've already written too much, so I'll just put the titles if you want to read them. "A Brother Offended," and "And Nothing Shall Offend Them."
Thanks for the videos of Eliza, she is super cute. Nat and Alex, don't die in Mozambique or wherever it is you're going. Read your scriptures, pray, and go to the temple this weekend. Love you tons, wish me luck on the bus ride!