Well, we had a pretty fun week this week that totally flew by. Elder Miranda didn't even know today was Saturday, he thought it was Friday. The visit from Elder Waddell kept us very busy, but it was awesome.
On Tuesday, we went a day early to Otavalo to do divisions with some zone leaders there and to make sure that everything was set for the training from Elder Waddell. The divisions went well, but I was exhausted afterwards. We visited a family that lived halfway up the mountain and it took us around 45 minutes to arrive at the house. But, it felt good to work outside all day and to see how the zone leaders are doing. It was a fun time to work that day. I took more pretty pictures.
On Wednesday, we got the chapel set up nice, and the Waddells and the Richardsons arrived around 10:00. We said quick a quick hello to them, and then Elder Waddell did some interviews. The acutal training was from 11 until 4:30, and the time flew by super fast, super fast. After the meeting, we had a leadership meeting, then at night he met with all of the ward and stake councils in the area to train/correct them. He corrected a lot. I'll put details about the training a little further along.
Wednesday night, we went back early while Elder Waddell trained the ward and stake councils to be able to prepare the chapel before they got there in Quito. They stayed the night in Otavalo, and got to the chapel around 10 again. Wednesday and Thursday were pretty much the exact same. The ward/stake council meeting was bomb. He corrected a lot of stuff.
Friday we had the last meeting in Quito again, but in the north part. Same speal, they left at 4 to go to the airport. The time went by so quickly, it was amazing. I can't believe that the week has already ended.
I learned a lot in the training. Elder Waddell visited the mission in November of 2012, and taught a lot of the same stuff, but he did change some stuff up to keep it interesting.
The first thing that he talked about was how missionary work changed on June 23rd, 2013, the day of the broadcast of Hastening the Work of Salvation. He said that before that day, we were all Missionary 1.0, our only job being to baptize. But, after that day, we got upgraded to Missionary 2.0. We still have the job to baptize, but now it is way more than just that. More than baptize, we need to convert, retain, and activate. We now have three jobs, not just one. Working with new members, less actives, and investigators are our main focuses now. Speaking of this, he said it is too big of a problem that missionaries baptize, leave them for the ward, then move on to the next baptism, never thinking of the progress of the new convert. We need to get rid of that culture and really get people converted. That was his theme for his training. Converts, not baptisms. We have a lot more work to do now. One example of this problem is that we are the Area that baptizes the most in the world. Last year, we had 39,000 baptisms in the Area. But, the problem is that there was an increase of only 10,000 people attending sacrament meeting. That's not a great statistic.
After speaking of our upgrade, he went on to the doctrine of what we were doing. He is a great teaching and taught eloquently. We are here serving now because we were brave before coming here, and the Lord needed us in this exact time to be missionaries. We read in DyC 88:72-72 where the Lord says He will hasten His work in His time, and when that time comes, He will provide Elders. Well, that time is now because President Monson said so. He also spoke that we are here in this mission, not only to help the people, but because we need to learn from the Richardsons. They have what we need to shape ourselves to serve the Lord for the rest of our lives. Pretty dope, right?
After that, we followed a scripture chain of DyC 2, 1 Nephi 22:9,12, DyC 101:64-65, and DyC 110. This part was sweet, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to summarize it well over email, but it's worth a shot. Plus, I studied it in Spanish, so I may not remember the exact words in English.
But, in DyC 2, Joseph has the "second" vision, where Moroni visits him and tells him that Elías el profeta will reveal the priesthood to him. Elder Waddell taught that there he is talking about the purpose of the priesthood, which is to seal families together. Through Elías el profeta, Jospeh would get those keys again, seeing as Elías was the last Old Testament prophet to have them, and it was him that gave them to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. It talks later in the section about remembering the promises made to the fathers, which means Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or the Abrahamic covenant. When the promise talks about having offspring like the sand of the sea, that means to say exhaltation. Elder Waddell said that a blessing like that can only be received in the Celestial Kingdom, seeing as now wife could bear that many children in this life. So, the Lord was going to reveal the priesthood, or the sealing keys, to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant, to seal the families together.
Then, in 1 Nephi 22:9,12, we read about the gathering of Isreal, and that all can receive the Gospel and the promised blessings in the Abrahamic convenant. We read one verse in Doctrine and Covenants 29:7 that explains that it is our job to gather Israel as missionaries.
In DyC 101:64-65, we reach of two things, the harvest and the garners. The harvest is the gathering of Israel, which we have to work to help accomplish. The garners are temples, because the scripture explains that by going there, they will receive eternal life. So, we need to gather Isreal and get them all to the temple, not just to baptism.
In DyC 110, the prophecies are all fulfilled. Joseph receives the keys of the gathering of Isreal, was reminded of the Abrahamic covenant, and finally the sealing keys, all happening in the temple. As of that day, the prophecies were fulfilled and we could begin the work to gather Isreal and to bring them to the temple, which is what we continue doing today. But, no one can receive the blessings promised in the convenant unless they are sealed.
That was a sweet part, he took awhile on it and explained a lot more. I can bust out my notes when we're together. But, after explaining that, he really emphazied the point that it is not baptism, it is the sealing, It's not the font; it's the altar. He told us that baptism is a necessary step to entering the temple, and that is why our work in baptizing is so important. But, it really is only the door at the beginning of the path of discipleship--there is so much more after. He quoted Elder Nelson, and, paraphrasing, he said, baptism without temple ordinances has no worth. Baptism followed by temple ordinances is the most valuable thing that we have. He also said that the best missionaries are those who understand the Abrahamic convenant.
After that, Sister Richardson taught about how to develop Christlike Attributes. It was great. She said that to imitate our heroes, we need to be like them, and to develop Christlike attributes, we need to have a cape like any superhero would have. In Spanish, cape is capa.
Believe, learn, ask for help, and act. It was a good training.
President then spoke about how to follow the Spirit better in the work. He gave many great suggestions, and helped remind us of the importance of the Spirit in the work.Three key things that we need to do to have the Spirit are: the study of the scriptures, being worthy, and praying often. He said that missionaries can convince, but only the Spirit can convert. We need to do all that we can to invite Him in every lesson. I really like that phrase that missionaries can convince, but only the Spirit can convert.
Sister Waddell then spoke about setting a good foundation. She doesn't speak Spanish, but her husband translated for us. It was a good talk about how we should leave the mission with a stong foundation in Christ, ready to face any challenge that we have with faith.
After them, Elder Waddell took the rest of the time. He killed it hard on a talk about obedience. That's one that I'll have to say in person. He ripped it apart. He started by saying, "I didn't want to talk about this, but we all know what happened a few months ago here." And delivered a quite needed machete. Any wicked missionary there would have wet their pants, an easy way to know which ones aren't obedient. It was awesome, seeing it from the view of someone who is obedient. In Spanish, we would say, "La mamá de los machetes."
He then spoke about how important the Spirit is, giving examples in the scriptures. Without the Spirit, we don't have success. He used Alma 17, 18, and 26 to talk about Ammon and how his power came from the Spirit, and a great quote from Preach My Gospel that says basically that if we don't teach with the Spirit, we won't have success, no matter how much talent we have. Super true, diga. We need to bring the message to the hearts of the investigators, and only with the Spirit we can do that. He repeated the phrase that missionaries can convince, but only the Spirit can convert. We've gotta have the Spirit.
He finished talking about the steps of the Gospel, and that it is too easy to skip repentence, especially here in South America, and go right to baptism. But, the scriptures Alma 34:15-16 and Helaman 15:7-8 teach us that everyone needs to have "faith unto repentance," if they are to be converted, not convinced. Three things that we do to help them to have faith unto repentence is to help them to pray, to read the Book of Mormon, and to go to Church. If they do those things, they are converted. To do these things, we have to be strong with our compromisos, which will offend many people and make them not want to listen, but we still need to be bold. Each person needs to do those things before baptism to be converted. There are baptisms without those things, but there are not conversions without those things.
There are a lot more things that I would like to write that I learned, but that'll do for now. In the future I can explain more. It was a much needed training for the mission. We really do need to focus on much more than baptism, although that is an important part of our work still. We need to convert, retain, and activate. Lots to do. We received the promise that if we active less actives, we will find many new people to convert. We need to be Missionary 2.0 now.
I got to listen to the training three times, which was a big blessing, and allowed me to really listen to promptings that I received from the Spirit. The two biggest things that I felt that I need to do personally are,
1. I need to become a true Gospel scholar, a master of the scriptures.
2. I have built myself a good foundation, now the question is: how do I want my house to turn out?
And those are the things I will be pondering about over the next several days and weeks. There is just so much to learn.
It was such a privilege to have the Waddells here and it inspired me to be a better missionary and to work even harder. Elder Waddell really is called of God to serve as a Seventy, and he has a great ability to help us understand our destiny and our identity. It was one of those meetings that you wish could keep going and going.
Well, that was my week. There is so much more that I would like to say, especially about the sweet machete that he gave (it was awesome), about the visit in greater detail and in ways that email makes difficult to do, but I hope that you could learn something from what I learned. It is conversion, not baptism, It is the altar, not the font. This is a great work to be involved in.
I love you guys tons! Happy birthday to Nat and Dad. I hope you all have a wonderful week and that you can go to the temple.