I think it would be safe to say that this week has been the most interesting week of my entire mission. The first half was really weird and not very successful, but the second half was great! Its been a bit of a rollercoaster, and I feel like it can only be fully understood by other missionaries and returned missionaries.
We have met a lot of non-denominational Christians, Pentecostals, and Muslims this week. Starting off with that should give you a hint to our adventures. Monday night we met Jocelyn. She was super open at the beginning, invited us in, mentioned that she had spoken with missionaries before (fun fact, she talked to me and Hermana Pettit last year). All was going well until she mentioned some of the things that she learned from her church and the special abilities that she has, such as seeing spirits and demons. She told us that one time she was walking down the street and saw a man with black eyes and God told her that that man didn't have a soul. Also, she practices praying in tongues everyday for an hour among other things. So we started from the basics and talked a little bit about the purpose of prayer and the purpose of the gift of tongues and the necessity of baptism, all of which she denied and was basically fighting against. So we left her some things to think about and to read and pray about and we got out. I walked away and thought about how grateful I am for the gospel and that God is a God of order and everything just makes sense. I'm grateful for a living prophet and his guidance, and I'm grateful for personal revelation and answers to prayers.
The next day we met 2 Pentecostals and 2 Muslims. The Pentecostals told us that we need to spread the word of God, which is the bible, not the Book of Mormon and basically said that if we spread the Book of Mormon we were going to go to hell. Not the first time I've heard that, but now it doesn't effect me because I've received an answer that it is true. We left them with a few cards and our testimonies that they can know as well. He tried telling us that the sign that you have been baptized by the Spirit is speaking in tongues and nothing else. So I started studying a lot about the gift of tongues, because I knew it was real and that it still can happen,. but I didn't understand it all that well. Now I know that Satan can very easily imitate speaking in tongues and we have to be VERY careful with that. The purpose is to uplift and edify and teach the members of the church, so if there is no translation for it, we must be careful. I've learned a lot this week from the rejection that has come to us.
Now, the Muslims. We met two of them on the same street and they told us two different stories of what they believe, so I still don't know exactly what they believe. One said that Christ died like every other man on the earth, the other said that God switched Christ for a look alike here on earth and was taken up into heaven and is waiting for the time to come back again. Also, the story of Muhammad is very similar to the story of Joseph Smith, except Muhammad was told what to write by and angel, and Joseph was led to find the ancient history of the people here in the Americas and translated it by the power of God. Once again my testimony was strengthened of the principles that I have learned and continue learning. I have spent a lot of time on my knees talking about these experiences with God, not because of doubt, but because I have a desire to help everyone come unto Christ from where they are. I have received answers for knew ways to teach people and of course it has be reaffirmed to me that what I'm doing is part of God's plan and that everyone really needs to know that truth, and they can through prayer. Just most of them aren't willing to do that. God is the only one that we can trust, and if we don't ask him, we can't trust anyone.
We experienced a lot of rejection, but we had a lot of miracles this week too. We found a woman named Marisol, and we just had a quick little lesson on her porch. She has some friends and family members who are members of the church and was actually planning on sending her daughter and niece with her friend to church next week, but now she is going to come too. My favorite part was when Hermana Villanueva recited the first vision, instead of just accepting it she said that she wanted to learn more and invited us back before we invited ourselves. She is so prepared and we are excited to see what's going to happen! Luis Fernando is another investigator and he has real intent. The good thing is that yesterday was the last day of his soccer league, so he can come to church next week! He is awesome and he is so willing to do what we ask him too. This week he will start reading in the Book of Mormon, and the lights start at the temple on Thursday, so we're going with him :)
We had the charla fogonera last night where all the recent converts share their testimonies, so Yessenia spoke :) Also, my companion spoke because she is going home in less than two weeks! Crazy how fast time goes. It was so nice to see my family from Bella Vista and Sudley. The spirit is always so strong in those meetings and everyone leaves uplifted. I have come to realize that one of my biggest sources of stress is time. Its even worse now because my companion is stressing about time as well and its not helping. I feel like there are so many things that I want to do, but I can't do it all in the time I have left. That's probably why I mention it every single week in my emails! I love all that I'm doing and especially all that I am learning. I feel my testimony growing stranger each and everyday. I wish I could share it with every single person in the world, but its not possible. I'll stick to sharing it with the people here for now and we'll go from there :)
Have a great week! Also, this week my companion and I are working in the Temple Visitor's center on the 4th (Friday), so send people you know around here! Love you all!