(turned out just like Mom's!!!)
Elder Cloward's birthday tie
Well my birthday week went pretty well. Last year I didn`t really tell anyone that it was my birthday. So in my first couple weeks in Melipilla when people asked me about my birthday I told them it was May 21st. They thought it was cool that my birthday is a national holiday. It's not my style to go around and tell everyone that it is my birthday. The wonderful people of Chile have done so much for me already. Elder Jergins, Elder Bybee and Elder Prado made me breakfast and we made the lemon cake (it turned out just like mom's) and Elder Bybee made me a cheesecake. After we ate lunch at Hermana Meza`s house (the hermana that washes our clothes) we went to the chapel real quick to see how the activity was going. One of the hermanas eating lunch at the activity, Marisol Cabezas, asked me really quietly " Elder Cloward is it your birthday?" and I quietly said, "yes" and she told me Happy Birthday and said "it might be a different birthday for you since you are far from your family and friends and without all the comforts of home but it will be your best birthday ever, because you are in the mission doing the Lord`s work and there is no greater blessing than that!" So that really made me feel good.
I honestly love the whole Cabezas family. The dad is the first counselor in the district presidency (and he just walked into our internet cafe haha), the mom is the district family history director, their oldest son Gustavo is a returned missionary (he got back from Ecuador about a year ago) and they have another son serving in Argentina. They also have two daughters, Belen and Coni that have helped out a ton with fellowshipping the investigators and new converts. We went out and worked as hard as we could on my birthday and we had a great day. I opened my tie in the morning and wore it all day! Thanks for buying it for me I love green ties!
Here`s my informe to President Jones about how it went with our goal to do 100 contacts and find a family to teach:
"Well Elder Jergins and I had a great last week together. He truly was a great example to me of dedicated missionary service and enduring to the end. We set a goal to do 100 contacts in our last week together. We did 76, so we didn`t quite reach our goal but I think we did a lot more than we would have if we hadn`t set the goal! We found more investigators this week than any other week we were together, and all of them were thanks to the contacts and doors knocked. We also set a goal to find a family of 4 or 5 people to teach and baptize, and we found a couple that have great potential. We contacted a man in the street named David. He said that he`d have no problem receiving us in his house. We got a cita and went back, and his pareja, Karin opened the door. Elder Jergins knew her because she is a less active member that he had visited with Elder Krainik a couple times. She had told the missionaries that her husband David was very "malgenio" and wouldn`t want to listen to the missionaries, but he was more than happy to recieve a visit from us, and it turns out that he is also a member of the church! Upon returning for another visit we found that they have 5 children, and three of them are old enough to be taught and baptized. So needless to say we are very excited about the opportunity to teach them.
We also wanted to share with you some things that we learned about contacts this week:
1. An effective contact really doesn`t have to be too long. Most people that will accept a visit from the missionaries in their home will accept after about 2 minutes, and those who truly have no desire to recieve us won`t accept, even if we talk to them for 20 minutes about why they should listen to us. Of course there are always those on-the-fence people that can feel the spirit and be convinced to receive us.
2. Láminas are great to use too, but they´re not always necessary. Sometimes people say they are really in a hurry and then if we offer them a picture of Christ they stop in their tracks and accept it, then they´ll listen for a little while and many accept a visit.
3. It´s a great idea to set a cita with the person right when you contact them. That way you set aside the time that is necessary to go and visit them. I learned from Elder Marin that it`s good to say things like, "On Tuesday and Thursday we have citas that are close to your house, we could pass by tuesday in the afternoon or Thursday night" and they usually accept. If not it can be difficult to find the time to go by.
4. The necessity of following the Spirit. The Spirit knows so much more than we do! That`s one of the things I learned from the beginning of my mission and from Elder Noguera. I might be right on time on the way to an appt but if the spirit tells me to contact someone I should do it (easier said than done but we´re working on improving in that aspect.) On a few occasions early in the mission I have felt the impression to contact someone but I have thought, "no, there`s not time right now we have to get to the appointment" and then we get to the appointment and the person isn´t even there waiting for us. Now when the Spirit tells me to stop and teach I listen. The Holy Ghost is much more intelligent than I am, so I am doing my best to put my trust in Him and not in my own understanding.
"Well I hope you have a great afternoon with all of the returning champions. I´m looking forward to one more change of spiritual experiences in the Lord´s work. I will let you know how the week goes visiting all the missionaries.Have a great week and thanks for al that you do.
Sorry that was a little long. I went with Elder Jergins, Elder Rosas, and his companion Elder Terán to the mission office in Maipú today we had to be there at 9:30. Elder Rosas and Elder Jergins had their closing interviews with President Jones. I saw Elder Finter there and asked him, "Hey Elder Finter, when do your parents get here to Santiago?" and he said "two hours ago!" Haha so that was kinda funny. He looks so excited to see his family again. I will continue to do my best and do all that the Lord expects of me here in Melipilla.
Elder Terán and I are together right now, we will go to changes together tomorrow and get our new companions. My companion will have to be a zone leader, since I will be finishing in the middle of the change. He`ll have to keep doing the work there for a little while without a comp unless President Jones does a bunch of special changes.
In other news, I´m a little worried right now about the progress of the zone. When looking at the key indicators that we have to send to the assistents, I realized that in this change the zone has gone down in every key indicator. There was also a sector closed in the zone. I know that numbers are not my motivation to do the work, but I do know that we need to do better. There are only 10 elders in the zone now, and we will be working very hard this change to help more people come unto Christ and work our their Salvation. I know that the Lord will bless us when we work hard, it´s a promise! (see D & C 82:10) but I know that He blesses us in His own time and in His own way. But the blessings are worth working for. Well I love you all and I will send some pictures now.