Yay! One last email and then I'm in Chile!! We got flight plans Friday. We're supposed to be at the travel office next Monday at 6 in the morning. We got off easy; other districts have had to leave at 4. We fly from SLC at 9:45, arriving in Los Angeles at 10:45. We leave L.A. at 1:20. Our branch president, who travels a lot, especially to South America (he's a Spanish translator and really rich, retired from wallstreet and owns a recording studio), he told us that we'll probably have a couple hour layover in Lima, Peru. We'll get to Santiago about 5:30 Tuesday morning. Then Elder Williams, another elder in my district, has about a 2 hour bus drive to vina del mar. 16 hours on a plane! I'm gonna get a lot of sleep and studying in. Maybe some teaching, too. :) I love it here, but I am definitely ready to get to Chile and do some real teaching.
Thanks for the package! I love the letter, and will love the food even more! I already ate a couple candy bars, and I'll probably save a few for the plane. Oh, and thanks for the hug, too. :)
My health is steadliy returning. I still have a very minor cough, but even that is almost gone. I'm about 90% healthy. Way better than last week and the week before.
Last Monday we taught Bernardo, our "progressing investigator", again. He had gone to church the week before, so we started out by asking how it went and if he had any questions. He said, no, not about church. I picked up on the "not about church," and asked if he had any other questions. He said he's been having a hard time deciding if he's in the right place. (He's from Spain but moved to Chile to teach English.) He misses his family and doesn't get along with some of the other teachers and doesn't know if he should stay or go back home to Spain. I asked him if he's prayed about it. He said once, but it was a disaster. He gets a good feeling, then it leaves, and he still doesn't know what he's supposed to do. So we talked a lot about prayer, and Elder Andelin talked about making a list of pros and cons. At one point it was silent for a while as Bernardo was thinking. I knew I had to say something but felt that I should wait a minute. Finally, the Spirit gave me the go ahead, and I said, "Bernardo, we want you to know that we are here because we love you, and we want to help you. God also loves you, and wants to help you. All you have to do is ask." The Spirit was really strong the whole lesson, and even more so as I said this. Then we bore testimony some more and closed by having him say a prayer. When we taught him Wednesday, we asked how his praying had been going. He said great. He'd made the pros/cons list and prayed and got a feeling he should talk to the other teachers. So he met with them and asked them how they felt about his teaching. They told him what they like and gave him some advice, and he said he gets along with them better now and thinks he's been able to help his students out a lot more. It was great. We teach him tonight at 4 again. We'll finish up lesson 3 with Endure to the End. Last night, as we watched a movie about a talk by Elder Scott about prayer, I got a feeling that we should see how strong his testimony about prophets, especially modern-day, is. So I'll probably talk about that tonight, too.
Tuesday night we had a great devotional. We always sing 3 introductory hymns and, after the 1st, the big head security guy came to the microphone and talked about how we never stand during songs, unless one of the 12 or 1st presidency comes. Then he said, "So IF it's an apostle, feel free to stand up. Now aren't you glad you came early and got good seats?" So we all knew it was going to be an apostle, and were pretty happy. But I was so excited and thrilled when, as we all stood up, Elder Bednar walked up to the stand. I love him, and actually have been hoping for him to come. I guess my wish came true. It was a really great talk. He asked the question, How do I tell if it's the Spirit or just me? Then he answered it: Quit worrying about it and get to work! Be a good boy, be a good girl, remember and honor your covenants, keep the commandments, and you will be led and guided, and you cannot go amiss. It was a wonderful talk, which really helped me, and I'm sure many others. Hands down the best devotional we've had.
Thursday in class we had Hermana Penaflor for a teacher. She told us she had been praying to know what to prepare to teach us, and felt that she should have us teach her. Not as a situation or investigator, but as her--as Hermana Penaflor. My companionship went first. She gave us some time to pray and prepare. As we were preparing, Elder Wiggins looked at my Preach My Gospel, opened to questions of the soul, and all he saw was "Does God answer my prayers?" Later he said everything else was blurry. Elder Andelin opened to a random page in his study journal which was about praying, and I opened to a random scripture, which happened to be about, yep, prayer. So we prepared to teach Hna Penaflor about prayer. When we got in there, after the opening prayer, I asked her if she had any questions or concerns. She said the recently, she's been having trouble with prayers. It seems like she has doubts and they never seem like real prayers. (This is all in Spanish, remember. And the real deal, she's not making it up.) So we read some scriptures about prayer and bore testimony a lot. I felt prompted to read James 1:6, which is often skipped over during the Joseph Smith story but talks about praying in faith, nothing wavering--having no doubts. Then I mentioned how sometimes it is hard to not have doubts; we might wonder why something is happening, why me? Then I shared a scripture which I had randomly turned to while preparing. It's in 2nd Nephi 26:24, which says that God doesn't do anything unless it's for the benefit of the world. Then we all bore testimony again. I talked about how important prayer is to me because it's how I talk to God and one way he talks to me. Then I wanted to tell her that when she prays God will answer her. But I completely forgot the Spanish word for "to answer." So I said that He will help. Seconds later I remembered the word for answer. We ended by having her say a prayer. Afterwards she said, "Thank you, Elders. I really needed to hear that." She had written down a lot of notes. The next Elders that went in later told us that when they got there she was crying. I'm really grateful for the opportunity we had. It was a great experience, and I think we all helped her a lot.
Well, that was a pretty long email. Lots of great stuff happened this week. Every day just keeps getting better. And the Spirit just keeps getting stronger, and easy to follow. The Spirit really is an amazing thing. I don't know what we'd do without it. I really don't want to think about it. But it really is an amazing opportunity to feel the Spirit and be able to teach according to what it says.
Well, gotta go, I'm out of time. I'll call next Monday, probably about 11:00ish. Tell the kids that I love them all. Thanks for everything!