First off yes I pulled S/. 100 out of my card and I may pull 50 to 100 more out this week in order to buy a few recuerdos (souvenirs) before leaving the offices. I think I will coordinate with Inka Envíos (Vanessa) to send them home in a package before leaving. To do that, I may have to pull out an additional amount to pay the shipping. I´ll let you know when I send it so you can be expecting it. As for a Christmas package, I am absolutely fine haha not a thing I need for sure. If you still feel like you need to send me something you can send me a tie perhaps, in one of those bubble envelopes so it won´t cost anything. I was brainstorming with some of the office elders about what to bring down in that suitcase that we can give away. Winter does get kind of cold for people here, but I haven´t really seen many people use hats gloves or scarves unless they are the knit variety from llama wool they have, and to be honest those are probably better than we can bring. Then, Elder U had this great idea. He said that the majority of the people he knows only have maybe one white shirt to go to church in, or two ties max and they stay that way until they have been members a good two years. As well, the women usually don´t own skirts or dresses to wear to church. If we brought down a suitcase full of Sunday clothing to give away, I know it would get put to good use, and I also know that it would be a great subtle reminder for them to stay active in the church.
As for this week, we continued with the interviews and work visits, this time going to Independencia, Collique, San Felipe and Canto Grande zones. The week goes by super fast when we have mission activities going on, and even faster now that we do visits after the interviews. We usually get back to the offices around 9 or 9:30 now and have just enough time to figure out the agenda for the following day and then head home. One of the good things I have been able to do this week is head out into Tahuantinsuyo more often and try to drum up some member support for the sisters. I went out on Thursday night with Elder S because I decided not to do a visit to Collique that afternoon and we went to a couple of less actives houses that I know. Nobody was home, so we went to the Elders Quorum president´s house and asked if he could help us find someone to teach. He had actually just gotten home after work in the early morning when his dad told him one of the elderly members of the ward passed away in the hospital and they were going to have the viewing and the burial that day. So he went with his dad, and saw a lot of the members of the ward out to support the family of a really faithful member who had passed on. He had just gotten home and eaten dinner when we knocked on his door, and he was hitting maybe 24 hours of being awake still but he agreed to take us to a friend of the deceased who had actually been the one to invite him to church many years ago, now inactive.
When we got to his house, he invited us in, mostly in virtue of that we had Hno E with us. We sat down and we started to talk about the plan of salvation and remind him that his friend Hno C (the member who had just passed away) was where all faithful members go to wait the second coming of Jesus Christ. We explained just that and invited him to come back to church the following Sunday, shared a glass of soda (very very typical) then left. I felt that we were supposed to have been there and shared exactly that during the lesson, that it was no surprise just after the passing of his friend whom he had invited to church, we should come to his door to invite him to church. We left and the days went by, I got the duty of staying with Elder Y, an elder who fractured his ankle playing soccer and now has to stay in the office while he recovers. Saturday night, after Pday, I asked Elder U to accompany me to one last appointment at 8:00pm to visit Hermano A. We got to his door and he welcomed us in, this time without Hno E. We came in and started to teach the plan of salvation from the beginning and were able to get to the atonement before I just couldn´t keep going with the lesson points. I looked at him and said "Hermano E, usted puede acercarse más a Dios solo por tomar el primer paso, yendo a Su Iglesia, este Domingo" he responded that he was in the proccess of that and that he eats breakfast at 8 on Sundays. I told him "Hermano E, Dios le está esperando con brazos abiertos, y no piensa que es demasiado tiempo que usted está tomando desayuno a las 8 en vez de la Santa Cena (sacrament)?" He looked at me with very changed and very sad eyes and whispered, "Hermano Nelson...no sé si me van a aceptar con tanto cariño si voy este domingo." Y en seguida nos compartió porque se había alejado de la iglesia. Estaba en la hospital hace años por una operación importante y había comunicado con varios miembros para que le donen sangre para la operación (no hay bancos de sangre donada aquí, simplemente tienen que pagar otros por donarla o traer amigos de su tipo de sangre) y cuando la hora de la operación vino, nadie estaba. El hermano tuvo que comprar sangre de otros ahí en la hospital y se sentía muy decepcionado con los miembros del barrio. Sentía que por ofenderse con los miembros no le iban a aceptar de vuelta después de sus años alejado. Le aseguramos con toda la certeza del espíritu que si le aceptarían y que aunque no, él va a la iglesia por su propia salvación y no por sus amistades, sean tan cálidos o no. Nos miró a los ojos y dijo "Hermanos, mañana voy a la iglesia...a las 8 de la mañana me parto por allá".
(Brother E, you can get closer to God just to take the first step, going to his church this Sunday. He responded that he was in the process of that and that he eats breakfast at 8 on Sundays. I told him "Brother E, God is waiting for you with open arms, and not think it's too long you are taking breakfast at 8 instead of the sacrament (sacrament)? "he looked at me with very sad eyes and very changed and whispered," brother Nelson ... do not know if they will accept me so fondly if I go on Sunday." And then he shared it was because he was away from the church. He was in the hospital for years for a major operation and had contacted several members to donate her blood for surgery (no donated blood banks here, just have to pay others to donate or bring friends to your blood type) and when the time of the operation came, no one was there. His brother had to buy blood of others there in the hospital and was very disappointed with the ward members. I felt offended. The members they would not accept him back after years away. We assure you with all the certainty of the mind that they will accept and if not, we go to church for our own salvation, not our friends, so they are hot or not. He looked into my eyes and said, "Brothers, tomorrow I go to church ... at 8 in the morning before I labor over there") (sorry, very rough translation from google translate)
We left the visit absolutely burning with the spirit after finishing out the lesson and I called the elders quorum president to make sure he knew the situation. Today they welcomed him with open arms and several members from before came and talked with him during the several meetings without having been asked to do so. Things are starting to happen here in Tahuantinsuyo, slowly but surely. The immense sadness is that I won´t be around to witness it unfold.
I love you all, I know that there has to be members of our ward that don´t go. Look them up, do whatever it takes and make a couple of visits to them this week. Seeing someone twice in one week makes a huge difference, and if a less active member sees two different friends from the ward during one week that both encourage them to come back, I´d be willing to say there´s a greater chance they come than that they don´t.