Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Invitation

Elder Fuentealba and Elder Nef
Meet Elder Fuenteabla
Let me introduce you to my new companion, Elder Fuentealba. He's a pretty cool dude with a very connected past to this area. Apparently, he lived in this very ward when he was a baby and his dad was stake president at one point. As a result, half of the ward remembers him and his family.

His family moved to Brazil and to the states during his growing up years, so he speaks very good English. I'd say his English is just as good as my Spanish, maybe a little better.

I think what will be especially difficult for my comp is the fact that his family has moved back to Chile and now lives about a half-hour bus ride away in the neighboring stake.

Anyway, right after we met up at the terminal, we got busy teaching investigators, following up on less-actives and connecting with our ward mission leader, Hermano Del Rio.

Number for the Noche
The weekly Noche de Barrio was pretty successful, considering that we had double the numbers attending this week.

While I am typing this letter in the Ciber Cafe, they are blaring the music, Hooked on a Feeling - you know, the ooga-chakka song? Hahaha.

USB Blessings
One of the benefits to living in a techy dispensation is that you can share videos on-the-go.  Our mission does not yet have iPads, but we can share videos from a USB. Sometimes a good visual with music taps into additional senses that the Spirit can use to create a feeling for the message. It's a blessing.

Some of my video faves this week:
"Amor Duradero" (Enduring Love) about an adorable older couple and eternal marriage.
The Twelve-Step videos about Addiction are pretty honest and powerful. I recommend.
The one about a father making an analysis of his life, likening himself to Heavenly Father is pretty good.

Oh, before I forget...
That was super sweet.

The Invitation
Friday night, our stake had a special meeting for returned missionaries, and our Mission President invited us to attend. The evening began with a devotional and some nice talks, but president's talk carried the biggest impact.

Instead of sharing the expected full-time missionary experience, he told a personal story about member-missionary work.

The story went this way:
Years ago, he owned a supermarket next to another store owned by this lady. Because they were neighbor proprietors, they became good friends and even changed hours of their respective stores to not steal business from the other.

photo by David Joseph Davies
She was a strong, independent woman who was not into religion, per se. However, after knowing her for a while, and seeing that she was having some family issues, he invited her to church to come listen to his talk he was delivering in Sacrament meeting. She went! And right away started listening to the missionaries.

The gospel lessons were a tremendous comfort. She felt the Spirit testify and was eager to learn more.

After a couple of weeks, he and the missionaries stopped by the lady's store, when a family member came out and told them that she had passed away, suddenly.

That's when president described this deep feeling of regret that pitted his soul. He asked, "Why didn't I invite her two months before?  Three months?  Six months?  Why did I wait so long?"

His point:You never know if someone is ready for the gospel unless you give the invitation.  And it is always better to invite sooner than wait until it is too late.

Christ has already extended an invitation to all.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock:
If any man hear my voice, and open the door,
I will come in to him.
Revelations 3:20

But for those who don't know where to find truth, it is up to us to reach out.

"The words 'Come unto Christ' are an invitation.
It is the most important invitation
you could ever offer to another person.
It is the most important invitation
anyone could accept."
President Henry B. Eyring

This is a Test. It is Only a Test.
Saturday, as part of a worldwide missionary study, we took a language test, then did some FamilySearch.

Members with Cars
One of the great challenges of serving in the more humble parts of the globe is not committing people to come to church, but in actually getting them there. Many people don't have cars. So we must rely of the goodness of members with cars. Sunday we were in a bind and called every automobile owner we knew, but nothing panned out.

Then we got a call saying that the Bishop worked it out with a dude. So, we high-tailed it to the investigators' house, and lo-and-behold, dude-member was there ready to chauffeur the family. Sweet!

Chilean Pioneer
Sunday evening we visited Hermana Godoy, who just so happens to be one of the pioneers of the Church in this area. She was baptized in 1958 and is still going strong.

The Beauty of Teaching with Hermano Bello
That evening, we went on divisions (splits) for the last hour of the day. Elder Fuentealba went with Del Rio to do some service, and I went with Hermano Bello (the High Priest Leader) in a last-ditch effort to get some work done.  In that hour, Hermano Bello and I taught 2 lessons and set 4 more return appointments!

One of the people we found while walking around town. We came across a dude in his 20s smoking outside his house. I lead-in with the usual schpeel but was rejected. That's when Hermano Bello chimed-in with a brief explanation of the Plan of Salvation, then transitioned to the Restoration. It melded so well. He then asked if the missionaries could pass by another time.

Renaldo, the dude, says Yes. So I handed him the Restoration pamphlet, commit him to read it, left him with a prayer - BOOM! That was cool.

I must say, Hermano Bello has a gift.
It's all in the invite. Don't be afraid to ask, kindly explain, and ask again.

"To know God is to receive his invitation. Not just to hear it, not just to study it, not just to acknowledge it, but to receive it. It’s possible to learn much about God’s invitation and never respond to it personally. His invitation is clear and non-negotiable. He gives all and we give him all. Simple and absolute.

Isn’t it incredible that God leaves this choice up to us? Think about it. We can’t choose the weather. We can’t control the economy. We can’t even choose how people respond to us. But we can choose where we spend eternity. The big choice, God leaves to us. The critical decision is ours. What are you doing with his personal request that you live with him forever?"     Max Lucado, And The Angels Were Silent

Have a Great Week, All,
Elder Connor Nef

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