What a great week this week! We have been working very hard, and were so happy to see the results, finally! I feel like that scene in that movie where that guy did that one thing. You know what I mean?
So, on Friday, President and Sister Richardson, and their kids, Steven and Andrea, came out to the orient for their "get to know the Richardsons" meeting. It was great! Steven is going on his mission to Chile and leaves in like 2 weeks, so he's excited for that. Their daughter, Andrea, is 13 if I remember right, and doesn't speak a word of Spanish. President and Sister Richardson are awesome. We told them about the activity and the baptisms that we were going to have, and it happened to be the weekend that they were coming out. They changed their plans just for us, and they ended up traveling 7 hours in bus with us to get to the places we needed to be in (2 hours to Lago, 1.5 to the baptisms, 1.5 back, 2 to Coca), and they were so happy about it. I'm so excited to work with them. They are very open and mellow people, I feel very comfortable around them. They're just great!
On Friday night, we celebrated the 2 year anniversary of the branch. It was a fun activity. We taught people how to have a family night and how to pray as a family, and it went really well. The members put together food and decorated the chapel, and it all looked great. We played some games, then called it a night. Side note. The mom of one family we are teaching is unreal. She is ready to be baptized, but wants to wait to have her baptism with her husband, which is fantastic. Her kids got baptized this weekend. She is better than the members. She comes to clean the chapels, makes us lunch on Sundays, is at church early, decorated the whole chapel, she's awesome. Back to the history. Saturday morning, we left at 8:30 to go the the manantiales. The bus was way longer than I thought, and I was starting to get a little stressed out because the President was there with his family and I was nervous about my first impression. We got there though, and it was absolutely beautiful. We had a great, spiritual service, the water was crystal clear, and everyone was happy. I felt so happy in the service, and the members and the investigators were totally pumped after it. We had a lot of people at church the next day because of the excitement.
On the bus ride home, I was talking to President, and he said it went awesome, which made me feel way better. We apologized for it taking longer than we had planned, and he said that it was totally worth it, so that made me feel good. We were just happy that no one was eaten alive by river parasites.
The confirmations at church were great. They took forever. We finished taking the sacrament at 9:45, pretty nuts. But a very spiritual meeting. Everyone felt good, especially the people that we confirmed. It was a great experience. Later that day, we passed by the Miranda family to see what they thought about the baptismal service. They've been progressing, but have been a little indecisive about getting baptized. We talked to them, and they said they felt the Spirit so strongly in the serivice, and they know that they should all be baptized. The only difficulty is the Dad. 4 of the 5 want to be baptized. The Dad has a work schedule where he works 14 days straight, then rests a week. So, he hasn't heard us teach in two weeks. They say that if they're gonna get baptized, they want to be baptized all 5 together, which is great. Tomorrow the Dad starts his week of vacation, and depending on how it goes and how he feels, they may be getting baptized this weekend. Keep them in your prayers.
So if you remember, before we had a change that was only four weeks, and I was going to come home two weeks earlier than planned. Well, that changed, and I will still be going home on the originally planned day. They gave President two weeks to get to know the mission, and today we had changes. Elder Burr and I are still together, but there were a few changes in our zone. I'll be here for awhile. I have no problem with that. But, Elder Burr isn't a zone leader anymore, just the branch president. What happened is that the other zone leader is Elder Murphy, who is in our zone but lives in Coca, two hours away. So, not sure how that's going to work out. We're thinking that since Elder Burr leaves during the transfer, when he goes Elder Murphy will just come here with me. Not sure. Did any of you have something like that in your mission? Anyways, I'm excited to keep working with Elder Burr. And if you're counting, the transfer cycle starts today, 6 weeks we have changes again.
Elder Burr and I were laughing about how different it is to serve in a branch than a ward. In a ward, we bring people to church and present them to the leaders. "Hey, Bishop, this is Juan and his family. They're new and want to learn more about the Church. Could you present them to the other leaders and members?" And it's all happy and lots of people greeting them. Here, it goes more like this:" Hey, Juan, thanks for coming to church. We don't have a Gospel Principles teacher, could you help us out? And how good is your wife with kids? Could she come teach the primary? Hope you have a great experience at church!" It's funny to see the difference between a strengthening process and growing process. We love it, though. The branch has grown stronger since Elder Burr got here. A good leader makes a big difference. We have branch council every week, and it's a lot easier to keep people working on their assignments. Little by little, the members are becoming better members. We still have a lot to teach them, but we love the work that we are doing. We love working hard.
I read in Elder Maxwell's, "Notwithstanding My Weaknesses," some great stuff. Basically, don't be sad because you aren't perfect. As Tony Horton says, "Do your best and forget the rest!" I think Dr. Seuss probably said that, too. I forget how to write some words in English. He gives 14 ideas of what we can do to improve--how to appropriately recognize and view our faults, then how to appropriately fix them, and they key to that is, of course, our Savior. Every time I write the word "Savior," I type, "Saviour." What am I, British? Here's just one of his points that I want to include. 10. We can also keep moving. Only the Lord can compare crosses, but all crosses are easier to carry when we keep moving. Men finally climbed Mount Everest, not by standing at its base in consuming awe, but by shouldering their packs and by placing one foot in front of another. Feet are made to move forward—not backward!
So, keep going! You can do it!
That's enough from me, I hope you've enjoyed my letter. You guys really are the best, and I love you tons. Find people to help out this week, and go on a visit or two with the missionaries. We love working with the members. Pray lots, laugh lots, and eat lots, and I'll do the same. I love you guys!