Well to start out with... This week I was able to witnesssomething that probably should never be witnessed again by a poor gringa such as I. We were passing by the home of a less active when we decided to visit her real quick. Her brother told us that Maria was working in the back of the house so we entered the front gate to go help her. Well... I should have recognized the clues and I will admit I was a bit confused when I noticed clumps of blood in the path to the side of the house, and then the clumps turned into a stream of blood. And I was kind of freaking out. The blood pooled up alongside the poor carcass of a recently slaughtered chancho, or pig. We talked with Maria and she said she was busy... clearly because she had just killed the pig. her son then came out and started cleaning off the pig. I was like, well we will just come back later, because I kind of wanted to vomit, but Hermana Silvera, was like, hey I want to see this.. And so I was like, what`s gonna happen? And then they started to cut into the pig and shovel out all its innards into a crate, where then they placed al the innards on the same place where you wash laundry, and Maria began to separate the intestines. Well it was a great sight, I took lots of great pics, and I was going to send them but one of our investigators was looking at pics on my camera and actually deleted all my pics.. so I`m kinda bummed about that but se la vie. Then they brought the other pig over to theside of the house, and it was his turn to be executed. I just couldn`t watch at this point so I went and talked with Maria`s kids and we learned the colors in English. Mientras mucha squealing and then silence... Hermana Silvera wanted to watch... Who is my companion? I don`t even know.
On the plus side.. we had 3 baptisms and confirmations this weekend, David, Alejandra, and Luisa Vinueza. It was so beautiful and we felt the spirit so strongly. We were a little worried about Luisa because she got in a little bit of a disagreement with her Dad the night before, and so our zone leaders came to the church early Saturday afternoon and interviewed her again, and surprisingly to us she said she was excited for her baptism, so that was a relief and then we taught her and Alejandra a little bit about enduring to the end and how God teaches us line upon line and precept upon precept, that baptism is just the first step in a long journey towards eternal life. I hope with all my heart that the branch can extend a warm friendship towards the Vinuezas. I was a little worried when we were with the young women on Sunday, and the other girls weren`t even talking to Luisa and Alejandra. I feel like many people in the ward are closed off and don`t express neighborly love. That’s why we have so many less actives. People can`t just see how someone needs help and go and help them. President Taràn`s wife was sitting all alone in relief Society, and I went and sat by her, and we started to talk. She is struggling so much, with their family jobless and a newborn baby, and she has to study every day, how hard. And she was just sitting all alone. Tears began to fill her eyes as we talked. After relief society, each and every mmebr should feel edified and loved, not more sad. Why can`t we all be a little more Christlike? Why can`t the whole branch cry with those cry and mourn with those who mourn. It literally breaks my heart to watch this happen. What can I do, as a missionary, to help this branch learn how to express love? We have a goal this week to visit 15 different houses of members and share a short message. I hope with all my heart that we can touch each and every one of these members hearts with the spirit, that they may work to have more Christlike Charity.
Other than the baptisms this weekend, it’s been a little bit of an unproductive week. We were able to visit a few new investigators that had baptismal dates but did not come to church on Sunday, and so we need to visit them again this week with members in order to help them come to church! I know that we can work harder in our planning to call members in advance to make sure that they can accompany us. On the plus side, one less active member Jose Chilcañaun, and his 3 children came to church on Sunday. We went to their house Sunday morning and brought them to church. We actually were way up on the mountain and were trying to catch a taxi in order to make it in time for sacrament. But there were no taxis. It was 10 minutes passed when curch was supposed to start, and Hermana Silvera and I were dying, because we ddn`t want to miss the Sacrament or the confirmations of The Familia Vinueza. I decided to say a quick prayer in my heart because we truly were depserate. And justo despues dige Amen` I turned around, and there was a taxi parking on the side of the road waiting for us. I don`t know about you guys, but the gospel is so real. Then when we stepped into Sacrament Meeting, Luisa was just in the action of sitting down on the chair up on the stand to recieve her blessing. We missed nothing! It was perfect. Back to the Family Chilcañaun! We actually taught Josè`s oldest son 2 days before sunday and he accepted baptism, but he wasn`t able to come because he was really sick when we passed by his house. We have high hopes for this family, and for the 4 children, Stefen, Maribel, Jemi, y Davìd, whom aren`t baptized, we are hoping that we can teach them all together and help them realize the blessings of the gospel and challenge them all to baptism.
To cap off this week we had a pretty miraculous experience last night that I am just dying to share with you all. Yesterday we planned to visit a member family for a family home evening. They hadn`t been to church for the past month and we wanted to see what was up. The problem is they live arriiiiiiiiiba!!!! Up on the mountain. And Hermana Silvera and I were out of money, so we couldn`t take taxi. We were on the bus to their house, when the the bus stopped and kicked everyone off (sometimes they do that because the bus driver wants to go home). we tried calling the family Figeroa because they have a car and perhaps they could`ve come to pick us up but they wouldn`t answer. I probably called them 100 times. And by now, it was really dark. Everyone talks about this area that we were in, like its one of the most dangerous areas, with vicious dogs and thieves. But we decided to walk to the house of the Familia Figeroa, becuase we both felt like it was very necesary. We walked for probably 25 minutes until we reached the street which lead up the mountain. A cloud had submerged onto the hill and we literally walked up the street and into the cloud. It was really eery.. Just fog and the faint dim of street lights above us. We were panting because it was actually a really great work out as well, hiking up the mountain in the dark. When we reached a dirt road that Hermana Silvera thought was their road, we turned. But 10 yards onto this street, we were walking in pitch black and the street lights from the main road had disappeared. Hermana Silvera then says, I don`t think this is the right road. We`re freaking about by now, and so I ask her what we should do. And she says, Oremos. And so we huddle together and start to pray, with bowed heads and closed eyes we ask for guidance, that God can help us find this family, that clearly needs help or else we wouldn`t have made it this far without feeling we should turn back. We lift our heads and our eyes and walk back to the main road. We hardly notice that right after our prayer, the cloud had lifted, and everything was clear. I look up and the sky is strewn with starlight and we could see the road that we needed just a little bit more up ahead. But this is not the end! As we continue walking, a man comes out of the darkness, cleary drunk and starts to walk roughly and loudly towards us, saying things that I couln`t understand, My heart jumps a beat. He is literally inches from touching my arm and I slow my footsteps, he passes us and walks to the other side of the street as though he never saw us. Wow. I know for a moment their on the mountain, we were both protected and I couldn`t help but imagine angels walking by our sides as we kept walking and finally arrived at the Family Figeroa`s House. Apparently their phone wasn`t working, and they had thought that we weren`t going to come. As we began to teach the lesson, the father shared his feelings, that God had sent us to visit them because he was just about to give up going to church all in all. He felt that God had stopped answering his prayers. But as we shared a heartfelt lesson on trusting in the scriptures and in Heavenly Father, he was humbled and said out loud, we have made sacred covenants with God and we are not going to give up, ever. This was a manifestation to me, that the spirit teaches through us when we base our actions on faith, that God has a plan, and even though our journey to the Familia Figeroa was immensley intense and scary, we were filled with peace and God protected us.
I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that we are here in Ecaudor to bring families together under the blessings of the Atonement and sacred covenants that we make in the temple. And I know that I am on the Lord`s side, and that he is on mine. This is my testimony that I leave with you all this week. And if there ever is a moment that you feel like God is not answering your prayers, just remember he has a plan a lot grander than our shortsighted plans. He trusts you to make the right decisions, and he loves you so much. He tests our faith, that we may exercise it, and receive aun mas un testimonio de la veracidad de su plan. Les quiero mucho mi familia, Que Dios les bendice. Hasta la proxima semana!
PS We went to a zoo today with our zone! I`m gonna send some pics.. it was super fun!